BGSU to host memorial concert in honor of late band director

Mark Kelly will be honored June 23 at Kobacker Hall


By Bob Cunningham

They called him "The Chief," and at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 23, 101 of his former students will play at Bowling Green State University's Kobacker Hall in his memory.

Mark Kelly, who directed the BGSU bands from 1966 to 1994, died in November 2017 at the age of 91. The College of Musical Arts (CMA) will host a memorial service for Kelly. His daughter, Karen Kelly, has brought together dozens of alumni and former students of her father to perform together as a band.

Capt. Ryan Nowlin, assistant director of the "The President's Own" U.S. Marine Band, will conduct the band during its performance.

Karen Kelly '75, '82 is touched that so many alumni are coming back to the University to pay their respects to her father.

"It speaks to the interest Dad maintained in the life and careers of the students, whether they continued in music, or completely different careers, away from music," said Kelly, who was the band director at Van Wert (Ohio) High School for 34 years. "Outside of music, the careers included Air Force pilots, business entrepreneurs and scientists. His leadership was not music education specific."

Before Mark Kelly came to BGSU, he taught high school band at his alma mater in Centerville, Iowa, for several years. Three of his students from that time period will play in the memorial concert. Others are traveling from Washington D.C., Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Tennessee, Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire and Texas.

Alumni performing Saturday include Lisa Welling Baker '84, flute, a retired Shelby (Ohio) High School band director whose daughter is a twirler with the Falcon Marching Band; George Edge '79, oboe, retired Grove City (Ohio) band director; Roger Kantner '88, bassoon retired member of "The President's Own" U.S. Marine Band; Patty Ruckman '90, clarinet, New Bremen (Ohio) choirs; Stan George '80, alto sax, Perrysburg (Ohio) Schools; Ray Novak '83, trumpet, retired (Toledo) Whitmer High School band director; Amy Horn '89, French horn, retired member of "The President's Own" U.S. Marine Band; Dale Laukhuf '67, trombone, retired Bath (Ohio) Local Schools; and Jeff Macomber '75, euphonium, Missouri State Southern University.

"To say that Mark Kelly made a meaningful contribution to BGSU as director of bands is an understatement," said William B. Mathis, College of Musical Arts dean. "His influence and legacy is felt in the College of Musical Arts every day as students rehearse in Kelly Hall, through the Mark S. Kelly Band Scholarship and through lives and careers of the hundreds of students that he taught and mentored.

"Anyone who knew Mr. Kelly knows of his caring personality, high standards and incredible passion for bands, music education and, most of all, students."

Kelly also will play bass clarinet with the band as it performs some of her father's favorite songs.

"It reflects the mutual respect between Dad and the students," she said. "He emphasized citizenship and camaraderie of the students in the ensembles, and was always aiming for the 'individual group,' not a group of 'individuals.' Integrity, respect of the individual, honorable character and discipline are words frequently associated with Dad.

"As a musician, his goal was for the sonority, blend, balance and the color of the ensemble, whether outdoor marching band, or indoor concert band. It shows the care, concern, and the attention to detail required to create the sound and tone of the ensembles. His students recognized this."

Kelly researched the music played during her father's tenure and tried to program those most frequently performed, including "Fanfare/Forward Falcons" (Bohrnstedt/Marini), "Iowa March" (Goldman), "Lincolnshire Posey" (Grainger), "The Pathfinder of Panama" (Sousa) and selections from "My Fair Lady" (Lerner & Loewe/ Bennett).

The concert will be live streamed at

Updated: 06/20/2018 04:08PM