Dr. John L. Alexander, 63, former director of
bands at the University of Wisconsin La Cross, died suddenly on Saturday, April
1, 2000. A native of Liberty, Mo., he graduated from Liberty High School in
l954. He received His B.M. and M.M. degrees from the University of Michigan. His
doctorate in trumpet performance was earned from the University of Missouri, at
Kansas City. Dr. Alexander was solo cornet and trumpet with the University
of Michigan band. For five years, he was the
First trumpet and soloist with the United States Air Force Bank, Orchestra and
“Singing Sergeants”. Other first Trumpet positions were held with the Toledo
Symphony and the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra. Additional Positions were held
with the Washington, D.C. National Chamber Ensemble, and as a participant in the
Symphony Summer Series concerts. John’s horn playing was influenced greatly by
teachers in Kansas City, Washington, D.C., and Lansing, Mich. His orchestral
performances were modeled after Sam Krause of the Philadelphia Orchestra. His
“show biz” side was a combination of Rafael Mendez, Harry James and Conrad Gozzo.
Dr. Alexander performed in jazz and show idioms with entertainers including Bob
Hope, Melissa Manchester, Andy Williams, Joe Capades, Ice Follies and the Shrine
and Ringling Brothers’ circuses. John Alexander was an assistant band
director and trumpet instructor at Arkansas State University and the
University of Missouri-Columbia prior to coming to La Crosse in 1969. His UW-L
marching bands performed at over 50 NFL half-times and appeared in the Rose Bowl
Parade; the Orange Bowl Parade (twice), London, England; Denver, Colo; and the
Holiday and Sunshine Bowls. In addition to directing the “Marching Chiefs” and
“Screaming Eagles” marching band, he conducted the wind symphony and symphonic
bands, and taught elementary conducting and brass techniques.
Dr. Alexander maintained a full schedule of trumpet performances and clinics in
the areas of brass performance and concert bands for audiences throughout the
upper Midwest and Canada. Following his retirement he served as a
substitute teacher in the public schools and taught trumpet to private students.
He and Marilyn enjoyed many years of fishing trips that took them to Canada,
Mexico and the Florida Keys.
John is survived by his wife, Marilyn; his son and daughter-in-law, John Brendon
and Sarah; and his grandson, Kenneth Chase. He was preceded in death by his
parents. A memorial service will be held on Thursday, April 6, 2000 at
2:00 p.m. at the Schumacher-Kish Funeral Home of La Crosse. The family requests
no flowers, but would welcome memorials to the Wisconsin Heart Institute at the
Gunderson Lutheran Medical Center, La Crosse.