News From Terre Haute, Indiana


May 4, 2014

EDITORIAL: Their music lives on

In memory of 2 who spread joy

TERRE HAUTE — On Friday, the community said farewell to two educators who spread the joy of music throughout the Wabash Valley.

The legacies of George Graesch and Steve Humphrey go beyond the classrooms, music halls and sports stadiums where they applied their teaching talents. Thanks to their skills, patience and leadership, thousands of young people developed the ability to play an instrument and acquire a lifelong appreciation for music. Graesch died April 25 at age 90. Humphrey passed away last Sunday after battling cancer, just two days shy of his 62nd birthday. Their services were conducted Friday.

Both men directed bands in Terre Haute, entertaining listeners and enlightening their student musicians.

Graesch was the longest serving director of bands in the history of Indiana State University, filling that role for 31 years until his retirement in 1984. The campus’ appreciation for his efforts manifested itself when the ISU Symphonic Band delivered a tribute performance, “George Graesch: A Concert of Celebration.”

Likewise, Humphrey’s teaching career covered 40 years and brought him and his family from Illinois to Terre Haute in 1982. That’s when Humphrey became director of bands at Terre Haute South Vigo High School, a position he maintained until moving to a similar role at Honey Creek Middle School in 2000. His bands at South and Honey Creek earned a large number of awards through the years.

Their impact transcended directing, though. Graesch and Humphrey, excellent performers in their own right, brought music to the broader community, too. After retiring, Graesch revived a Terre Haute musical institution — the long-running swing band Men of Note and Claudia. The group’s roots are a half-century deep now.

Humphrey poured energy into the Terre Haute Community Band in a variety of capacities, including leading its percussion section and serving as guest conductor at concerts, often in Fairbanks Park.

With condolences to friends, family, students, former students and bandmates who mourn the passing of Graesch and Humphrey, we also urge the community to follow their direction by supporting the musical causes that inspired both men. Their obituaries suggested memorial donations be given to the ISU Foundation for the Joseph Gremelspacher Music Education Scholarship Fund (in Graesch’s honor), and the Terre Haute Community Band (in Humphrey’s memory). Such contributions would place a proper coda on the careers of two guys who made life here sound a little sweeter.

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