From The Vault:

Volume 4 Number 1 – Winter 2024

A NOTE FROM YOUR DISTRICT HISTORIAN

Greetings friends of the Illinois District – and Happy New Year!  I hope that 2024 has started off well for each and every one of you.  I decided to do something a little different with this issue – since all things 1999 related are celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2024, I thought I would make this edition a “tribute issue”, with all stories related to that remarkable year within our District and Society.

First off, we have a biography of one of the most accomplished barbershoppers in District history.  We also celebrate the silver anniversary of both our adult and high school quartet champs, feature an interesting artifact from days gone by, and honor a beloved Hollywood celebrity with Illinois roots.  We also have a live recording of one of the most memorable moments in chorus contest history.

As always, I thank my committee for their support in sustaining our district’s history.  I would also like to thank both Bob Squires and Ray Palmateer for their invaluable contributions to this issue.

Hang onto your seats, because we’re turning the clock back 25 years to “party like it’s 1999!”

See you soon,

Rich Hansen

Illinois District Historian

Bob Squires

Barbershop Icon

Few district barbershoppers have a greater list of accomplishments than our featured “icon” in this newsletter – Bob Squires.  Recognizable to most barbershoppers across the district due to his nearly 60 years of involvement in the hobby, Bob has pretty much done it all – multiple chapter member, singer, director, chorus/quartet gold medal champion, chapter officer, district officer, bulletin editor, award winner, IDAH faculty member, coach, IDEA Trustee, archivist…the list goes on and on.  But who really is the legendary Bob Squires and what has been his contribution to this district?

 

Well, it all starts in Naperville, IL where Bob was born in 1938.  Bob’s love of music was instilled at an early age during his time at a local Catholic grade school, where his choir sang for morning Masses.  As time went on, Bob expanded his love of music when he began playing the trumpet.  His band experience was short-lived as Bob grew older and his interest turned to athletics.

 

Bob never forgot his love of singing, and after getting an education degree at North Central College in Naperville, Bob found himself teaching junior high Social Studies and middle school PE at Ludwig Elementary in Lockport, IL (where he would remain for the next 37 years before retiring) and coaching a variety of sports, including football, basketball, baseball, and track.   Taking a liking to a fellow P.E. colleague, Bob was enticed to follow her to an event in which her father was involved – a barbershop contest.  In fact, this one was the 1964 Illinois District fall convention held in Rock Island, IL and Bob’s friend’s father was singing in the West Towns Chorus.  That was Bob’s first exposure to barbershop and he was hooked.  He immediately joined the West Towns chorus and would remain a faithful member of the chapter for the next 60 years.

 

Bob sang lead in the chorus and his talent was not overlooked by his fellow members.  Though he considered himself at the time as just a “chorus guy”, chapter member Jim Ahlgrim (father of Waldorf Hair Company baritone Craig Ahlgrim) sought out Bob a few years later and encouraged him to join a quartet with Jim and other Lombard chapter members Dean Worley and Ross Coons.  They called themselves Harmony Tradition and sang together from 1972-1975.

 

Despite usual quartet disbandments, Bob was never without a quartet.  After Harmony Tradition broke up, he sang with such groups as Grand Reunion, Thank You Notes, Good News, Chicago Pride, and Four Members Only over a period of ten yearsIt was a comedy quartet from the mid-1980s that Bob recalled as his “most enjoyable” – Bits ‘N PiecesWhile only together a couple of years, the quartet refined comedy routines that were hits with audiences and the group was in high demand on chapter shows.  The group particularly enjoyed a “Jack in the Box” routine they took to district contest involving baritone Jack Windsor dressed as a puppet that popped out of a box at one point during a song.

 

Perhaps Bob’s most successful venture into the barbershop realm was when he was approached by three of the district’s finest (Buzz Haeger, Jim Foley, and Ray Henders) who asked Bob to sing lead in a seniors quartet.  The group became known as The New and Improved Industrial Strength Mini-Chorus and featured Bob on lead, Ray on tenor, Jim on baritone, and Buzz on bass.  The group qualified to compete at the Society’s International Midwinter convention in Sarasota, Florida in 1994 and won the AISQC (Association of International Seniors Quartet Champions) contest their first time out!

Though the quartet soon disbanded, Bob began singing with another seniors quartet, the Tri-County Reclamation Project, with Dave Cowin, Jim Foley, and John Jordan.  The foursome competed at the 1996, 1997, and 1998 Midwinters, earning a 3rd and two 2nd place finishes, respectively.  When John Jordan suddenly passed away in 1998, the group found a replacement in bass Doug Watson and captured the gold in 1999 at the Midwinter convention in Biloxi, MS.

Over the next couple of years, Bob would sing in a few pickup quartets for contest, most notably replacing Butch Koth (Chicago News ‘81 International Champs) in a quartet with Ray Henders, Dave Cowin, and Dave Boo called Chicago TimesBob made his last quartet appearance on the contest stage in 2011.

But the story doesn’t end there – over Bob’s barbershop career, he has been a member of no less than three chapters (Lombard, Lake Country, and Aurora), and has served as director/assistant director for each at one point.  He served the district as VP of Contest and Judging, VP of Music & Performance, Board Member at Large, and was District President from 1999-2000.  He served the Society as a certified Interpretation Judge (1985-1992) and Presentation Judge (1993-2007).   For his efforts, Bob was awarded the Award for Barbershop Excellence (ABE) in 1987 and was named the 1998 “Music Man” by the QCA.

One of Bob’s most important contributions to the district was his role as district historian and archivist, a position he held from 2005-2019.  Bob was instrumental in cataloging and organizing district photos, recordings, and other ephemera for posterity (which has made my job as historian so much easier!).

Bob currently lives in Crest Hill, IL with his wife Julie and can still be seen at various barbershop events.  Very few men have given so much to the district for such an extended period of time (over half a century!).  We proudly remember a man who truly left his mark on barbershopping in the district and set an example for all those who follow – congrats on a job well done, Bob!

QCA Spotlight

By Popular Demand

By Popular Demand

This issue’s QCA Spotlight belongs to a fan-favorite quartet from 1999 celebrating its 25th anniversary – By Popular Demand.  The members included Bob Tempas on tenor, Greg Lee on lead, Tim Pashon on baritone, and Ray Palmateer on bass.  The group represented the Northbrook and Sterling-Rock Falls Chapters.

The story starts with a young teenager named Greg Lee who walked into a Northbrook rehearsal during the mid-1990s.  Despite his age, Greg’s accomplished singing and performance ability did not go unnoticed by members of the chapter.  In 1996, fellow Northbrook members Ray Palmateer (who was singing in a district quartet called Speed of Sound) and Tom Kentish (a former district champion with the 1994 quartet Common Ground) thought it might be a good idea to give Greg exposure to competition on the district stage.  They picked tenor Bob Tempas to round out the group and after only three rehearsals, took to the stage at the district’s Fall 1996 convention held in Peoria as the quartet Strike Up the Band.  To everyone’s surprise, the group came in 5th.

The next spring the group competed again, although a replacement tenor was brought in with Joey Yates (who would go on to sing in the 2000 district champs Chicago Swing) as Tempas was unavailable.    The group didn’t fare as well, coming in 9th.  Still feeling the potential of a great quartet, Ray and Greg felt that it was worth putting together something more permanent.  Tempas was available again for tenor, however Kentish was heavily involved in a new quartet that would actually go on to capture the district championship that year – Sharper ImageSo it was decided to choose a new baritone.  It didn’t take the guys long to settle on a rising star within the district, Tim Pashon – the co-director of the Sterling-Rock Falls Chapter and a member of the district quartet finalist quartet called Pinnacle.  Tim decided to give this new quartet a try.  They chose the name By Popular Demand and entered the Fall 1997 contest, achieving an impressive 3rd place finish.

The guys immediately knew this quartet had the potential to win a district championship, so they began working harder and getting coached, and it paid off.  The next year, they jumped up to 2nd place and then in 1999, captured the district championship.  In an era where most district championship quartets had one or more previous champs as members, Ray felt like this was a true accomplishment, as none of the guys in By Popular Demand had won the district before.

Over the next three years, the quartet was very active, singing for district events, such as IDAH schools, and appearing on dozens of chapter shows both in and out of the district.  They qualified to compete on the International stage in 1999 (Anaheim), 2000 (Kansas City) and 2001 (Nashville).  The group even got the opportunity to travel and perform with the Northbrook New Tradition Chorus to Brighton, England for the BABS (British Association of Barbershop Singers) annual convention in 2000.

A favorite memory of Ray’s was singing at the Fall 2001 convention with both By Popular Demand & The New TraditionIn what would be considered a very emotional moment at the conclusion of the convention, the quartet and chorus performed a combined number arranged by Northbrook director Jay Giallombardo entitled, “Tribute to World Peace.”  The song had special meaning, as the country was still reeling from the 9/11 attacks that occurred just weeks earlier, and earned both groups a lengthy standing ovation.

Family and work demands forced the group to disband shortly thereafter.  Bob Tempas went on to sing in the 2004 district champs Lakeside Edition.  Greg Lee captured two more championships, in 2002 with Aces High and later in 2021 with Lake Shore Drive.  Tim Pashon had even more success, capturing the district title three more times, with Off the Record in 2009, Waldorf Hair Company in 2011, and most recently with Drive Time in 2014.   While Ray sang in a few quartets over the years, his only district championship was with the group he enjoyed the most, By Popular Demand.  However, he has returned to the district stage as an emcee on various occasions.

We celebrate the anniversary and congratulate the success of our 1999 (once and always) district champion quartet – By Popular Demand!

“Pal of My Cradle Days” – Kansas City, 2000

An “Honorary” Member

The cover of the July/August 1999 issue of The Harmonizer featuring a photo of Dick Van Dyke
Dick Van Dyke on the cover of The Harmonizer

There are a few individuals who really make their mark in television and movies – individuals whose popularity spans across generations.  That can truly be said of Mr. Dick Van Dyke.  Though born in Missouri, Van Dyke grew up in Danville, IL.  He attended Danville High School, and credits the drama program there for sparking his interest in a career as a professional entertainer.  Interestingly, Van Dyke also participated in his school’s a cappella program, and was always a fan of barbershop singing.

Following a stint as a radio announcer during the Second World War, Van Dyke joined a team of mime performers called “The Merry Mutes.”  Touring with the group got Van Dyke attention, and he was offered bit parts in several television shows throughout the 1950s.  Although making his Broadway debut in late 1959, it was his role as Albert Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie in 1960-61 that gained Van Dyke national stardom and earned him a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for 1961.  Over the next several years, he was the star of the hit TV series, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and earned a Grammy Award for a memorable role as a chimney sweep in the popular Disney musical, Mary Poppins in 1964.

Though not one of his more well-known awards, nevertheless the honor bestowed on Van Dyke at the Barbershop Society’s 1999 International Convention was one he has cherished.  It was there in Anaheim, California that Van Dyke was made a lifetime honorary member of the Barbershop Harmony Society.  Van Dyke was singing in a quartet at the time called Mutual Fun which performed to the delight of the convention attendees.  That same year, Van Dyke appeared with the Society quartet, Metropolis on an episode of his show, Diagnosis Murder.  Van Dyke later sang with a quartet called The Vantastix and most recently was serenaded by The Dapper Dans when he made a trip to Disneyland in October, 2023, just two months shy of his 98th birthday!

Van Dyke’s Society award was featured in the July/August 1999 issue of The Harmonizer, of which a copy can be found safely stored in the district archives.

Legendary actor Dick Van Dyke was presented with an Honorary Lifetime Membership to the Barbershop Harmony Society prior to this performance and a portion of his speech is included here. Presented and performed live at Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California during the Barbershop Harmony Society’s 1999 International Convention.

1999 Directory

This issue’s featured artifact is one that would be very familiar to older barbershoppers – the annual directory.  The directories were published from the 1950s until the early 2000s and mailed out to district members at the beginning of each year. Included in the directories was contact information for Society staff, as well as District and Chapter officers. Also, chapter rehearsal locations/times and general historical information regarding past district award winners, championship quartets/choruses, etc. were included.

The 1999 Directory lists the following district board members:

President – Bob Squires

Immediate Past President – Joe Sullivan

Secretary – Ken Krancher

Treasurer – Bob Finley

VP of Chapter Support – Jim Vliet

VP of Chorus Director Development – Dennis Morrisey

VP of Contest & Judging – Wayne Wright

VP of Events – Jerry McDonough

VP of Marketing/PR – Jim Stahly

VP of Music & Performance – Terry Ludwig

VP of Member Services – Aaron Grice

Society Board Member Liaison – Bill Stock

Most of this information now is either found online or printed in the booklets distributed at the fall convention.  But for over fifty years, this little book was a handy “go-to” for members who needed Illinois District information at their fingertips.

Bored of Education

This issue’s Youth in Harmony spotlight is devoted to a favorite quartet of mine (sorry, I’m biased with this one!) – Mt. Zion’s Bored of Education.  It was the first youth quartet I worked with after being hired to teach at Mt. Zion High School in the fall of 1997.  My friend Connie Mulligan (a relative of Onset bass Danny Mulligan) was the choir director at the school and the daughter of Larry Checkley, a fellow member of the Coles County Chorus.  That was my “in.” (sometimes, it’s all who you know!)

Anyway, shortly after taking the job, Connie approached me and said she had four boys in her show choir program that she thought would make an excellent quartet – and she was right!  They were juniors Brandon Durbin (tenor), Pat Horath (lead), Andy Nunn (bari) and Ryan Wuellner (bass).  They were best friends and had a great sense of humor (hence the quartet name).  It didn’t take long to see their potential.  I gave them some music, we started rehearsing after school and some weekends, and they took to barbershop singing immediately.  I suggested they enter the district contest, held at the spring convention in 1998.  They came in 2nd their first time out, but were encouraged to stay together and improve their technique.  I served as their coach and got them gigs on barbershop chapter shows as well as for local community events.  Their appeal was their timing and humor.  Two favorite song routines were “Crazy ‘Bout Ya Baby” (with the plunger routine from the musical Forever Plaid) and “My Old Man.”

The next year, we went back to Peoria for the 1999 spring convention and it was a stacked contest – there were nine high school/collegiate quartets competing that evening!  The boys did a great job and came out on top singing “The Chordbusters March” and “Last Night Was the End of the World.”  Interestingly, as I was 25 at the time and they were 18, we all qualified for the collegiate division, so we entered the same contest as a collegiate quartet with me replacing Brandon on tenor.   We called ourselves PARR for the Course (Pat, Andy, Ryan, and Rich) and also captured the division championship and the opportunity to represent Illinois at the convention in Anaheim – but that’s another story!

The boys continued to sing together over the next year until college and work demands guided them in other directions.  Three of the original members (Durbin, Wuellner, and Nunn) made a cameo appearance singing with a current MTZHS student reprising “My Old Man” for an alumni show choir reunion concert held at the school in 2017.  Pat and Ryan live out of state, however Andy and Brandon still reside in the Decatur/Mt. Zion area.  Brandon’s son is currently a freshman at Mt. Zion High School so maybe I’ll have another Durbin singer in the future???

“The New Tradition” (1999)

This issue’s “retro recording” takes us back to September 25, 1999 when the curtain opened on the Northbrook New Tradition Chorus at the fall district contest.  The group had put together a new package that premiered the previous July for the International Contest and was now making its debut on the district stage.  Known for their storytelling ability while singing moving arrangements by their director, Jay Giallombardo, the chorus did not disappoint that evening.  There was much anticipation in the crowd and when the curtain opened, the Northbrook chorus delivered a stunning package based on the musical Les Miserables, earning them a district championship.  The set included “Do You Hear the People Sing?” and “Bring Him Home” and is remembered fondly to this day.  This issue pays tribute to that moment in time when the New Tradition once again took their audience on a musical journey that is just as exciting today as it was twenty-five years ago.

The Northbrook “New Tradition” Chorus, under the direction of Jay Giallombardo - Fall, 1999

Next Issue: Coming Spring 2024

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