Laddie Lysinger to Receive Gary Thomas Award

UNK-Laddie Lysinger, Class of 1941, of Boise, ID, has been named this year’s recipient of the University of Nebraska at Kearney Dr. Gary Thomas Distinguished Alumni Award in Music.

Lysinger will be honored at a luncheon hosted by the Department of Music on Friday, Nov. 10. He will also be recognized at the Homecoming Awards Banquet that evening.

“Laddie has remained active in music in many different ways over the years. He has made a difference in music education and he still continues to direct a mesonic band in Boise, Idaho,” said Ron Crocker, a professor of Music and Performing Arts.

Lysinger has been devoted to music since he learned to play the coronet and the violin at Sargent High School in the early 1930s even though the school did not have a band or choir.

After graduating from high school, Lysinger played in dance bands and enrolled in college. As a college student, he took over a dance band and played for dances on campus. Those events were popular activities for students who stayed Kearney.

Lysinger taught music at Ravenna after graduating in 1941. A year later, World War II sent him to the service where he was a pilot in the Army Air Corp. He returned home to Ravenna in 1946 and spent the next three years teaching music. Lysinger also taught music at Gothenburg, Brady, Maxwell, and Farnam. From 1965 to 1980 he was a counselor at Meridian High School in Idaho. For a number of years in retirement, Lysinger directed the El Korah Shrine Band. On the anniversary of his 50th UNK class reunion in 1991, Lysinger organized a band of 26 former classmates, students, and friends who performed as part of that Golden Anniversary reunion. The event was such a hit that he organized the bands for concerts the following two years for the class reunions of 1942 and 1943.

The music award is named for Dr. Gary Thomas, a UNK music faculty member for 37 years and Music Department Chair for 34 years. Dr. Thomas, who now lives in Arizona, retired in 1993. He was the first recipient of the award in 1997.

Previous recipients of the award, which was established in 1997, were Mary Elaine Wallace House (1998) from Rockwell, TX and Robert D. Smith (1999) from Athens, OH.