Harold Joe Waldrum is best known for his paintings and etchings of New Mexico’s adobe churches, but in the 1960s he was an acclaimed music instructor, most notably in the small town of Lakin, Kansas, where he taught concert and marching band for approximately ten years.
In conjunction with their marriage in October of 2018, two of Waldrum’s former students, Sydney McCormick (class of 1967) and Patrick Bonnie (class of 1962), announced the endowment of the Harold Joe Waldrum Scholarship for Music and Art.
From their press release published in the Lakin Independent:
“As our wedding gift to Lakin, we have established the Harold Joe Waldrum Scholarship with a grant of $25,000 to be used by graduating students who wish to pursue degrees in any of the visual fine arts such as painting, sculpting, or architecture. A student wishing to express his or her artistic talents musically through singing, composing, or playing an instrument would also qualify for the scholarship.”
“Those who have established scholarships in the past could not have anticipated the cost of higher education increasing so dramatically, and their well-intentioned scholarships have become woefully inadequate in today’s world.”
Bonnie is an Adjunct Professor of Archaelogy and Anthropology at a Minnesota State college, and McCormick is a retired legal assistant. The press release goes on to say that “As a college educator, Bonnie has seen the cost of textbooks – even paperback textbooks – skyrocket to $100 or more each, and has witnessed the promise of students’ bright futures being crushed due to lack of funds.”
Under Waldrum’s guidance the Lakin High School band received numerous 1 and 1+ ratings in a competitive field. Former Garden City high school student (and son of Alton Foster) Rhea Foster described these years as a “‘Golden Era’ for southwest Kansas bands, when fierce competition was normal between Lakin, Hugoton, Deerfield, Sublette, Ulysses, Leoti, Scott City, Dighton, and Garden City.”
Ever an innovator, Waldrum delighted audiences with whimsical musical selections including “The Stripper” for pep band and “Tip Toe Through the Tulips” for marching band. He was also the originator of what would become Lakin’s trademark marching band step, The Camel Walk.
Waldrum hand-scored the majority of music played by LHS bands, and is especially remembered by students for an award-winning concert band score of Mussorgsky’s “Great Gate of Kiev.” Former student Scott Lucas (class of 1971) recalled that it “seemed like he handed out new parts every day,” and Earle Rice (class of 1969) said Waldrum was “manic about achieving some sort of perfection.” A full-sized gong was purchased for the finale, and Waldrum also managed, through a bit of creative finagling, to get his hands on an E-flat tubular bell. Sydney and Pat used “Great Gate of Kiev” as their wedding march on October 7, 2018.
The Waldrum family is grateful to Sydney and Pat for establishing the scholarship in memory of Harold Joe Waldrum. Contributions to the scholarship fund are welcome; checks should be made to USD 215 Harold Joe Waldrum Scholarship and mailed to:
Attn: Kimberly Lohman
1003 W. Waterman
Lakin KS 67860
Waldrum teaching concert band in Lakin Kansas
Below: Moussorgsky Fan Club, 24 x 18″ collage, Harold Joe Waldrum, 1960s