(Posted June 1, 2014)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
“It’s amazing the talent that comes from a small town like London,” said Tom Cox, former president of the London Music Boosters.
That talent was celebrated May 21 with the induction of the first 12 members of London City Schools’ new Fine Arts Hall of Fame: Joyce Hildebrand, Bob LeBeau, Bob Lukens, Alfred Mancini, John Markus, Chick McGee, Clint Morse, Larry Peters, Phil Shipley, Diane (Sisterhen) Slagle, Jim Smith and Dave Trent.
The idea to honor London graduates who have excelled in the arts and individuals who contributed to the schools’ arts programs came to Cox two years ago during a meeting in the high school commons.
“I looked up and saw the athletic and academic hall of fame photographs prominently displayed and thought, ‘Something is missing,’ ” he said.
The fine arts hall of fame planning committee—Cox, current music boosters president Jeff Gates, principal Chad Eisler and parent Suzy Bennett—received 45 nominations for the inaugural induction class.
“There were many, many excellent candidates. We have a large potential pool to choose from for future inductions,” Cox said.
The ceremony took place during the high school’s band and choirs concert. Like the Oscars, honorees were announced one at a time between musical numbers. Each was escorted by a student; each made a speech.
“We were all pleasantly surprised at how emotional and passionate the recipients were,” Gates said. “The night perfectly tied together the past and the present and opened the door for students to see the future.”
About the honorees (for full bios, go to www.londonredraidersmusic.org):
• Joyce Hildebrand—A 1946 graduate of Marion Harding High School, Hildebrand worked as a teacher instructor at Miami University, as entertainment director at the Army Chemical Center in Maryland, as a teacher at Madison South High School, and as a teacher at London High School from 1967 until her retirement in 1992. She directed over 150 plays for the Army Special Services and high schools and 25 London community plays. She was a co-founder of the London School Community Theater and designed the theater and classroom/work area at London High School. She taught public speaking, dramatic literature, oral communications, play production, English and American government. She is a member of First United Methodist Church of London, where she directed the adult and children’s choirs. In recent years, Hildebrand has participated in musical revues for the Madison County Arts Council.
• Bob LeBeau—A 1952 London graduate, LeBeau is a professional saxophonist. While in the United States Army, he played in the “Second Army Showmobile,” a touring variety show group. He also toured every major army command in the world with the famous “Rolling Along All-Army Revue.” He has played with numerous local and national acts. He currently performs in four professional bands: Vaughn Wiester’s Famous Jazz Orchestra, Rick Brunetto’s Big Band, Dwight Lenox’s Lenox Avenue Express and John Vermeulen’s Octet.
• Bob Lukens—A 1936 London graduate, Lukens learned to play the piano by ear and had no formal lessons. He played trumpet in several ensembles throughout high school, including the London Creamery Marching Band and a dance band where he earned $3 per performance. He was a freshman trumpet player in The Ohio State University marching band when the band first performed “Script Ohio” on Oct. 10, 1936. He was a member of the OSU band for all four years of his college career. He passed away in 2012.
• Alfred Mancini—A 1950 London graduate, Mancini had 65 television and movie credits to his name. He was a regular UK TV and stage performer in London, England’s West End productions. His most notable film role was as Tassos Bravos, one of the 12 prisoners in “The Dirty Dozen,” co-starring with Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine and Charles Bronson. He also appeared on “NYPD Blue,” “The Rockford Files,” “Miller’s Crossing,” “Turk 182” and “All in the Family.” His last role, in 2005, was on an episode of “Joan of Arcadia.” He was an acting instructor for over 30 years at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. In 2002, he won the Los Angeles Ovation Award for his performance in “The Time of Your Life.” He passed away in 2007.
• John Markus—A 1974 London graduate, Markus was a staff writer on “Working Stiffs,” a sitcom starring Michael Keaton and Jim Belushi. After an assignment on Paramount’s “Taxi,” he joined the original writing staff of “The Cosby Show.” He became the series’ supervising producer after six episodes and was promoted to co-executive producer for the second season. He remained as show runner until 1990. During his tenure, he wrote or co-wrote 67 episodes, earning an Emmy, a Peabody and two Humanitas prizes. Markus co-created “Lateline” with Al Franken and was consulting producer on “The Larry Sanders Show.” His play “Sons of Liberty,” a prototype for an NBC television series, was produced at the American Palace Theater. Since 2009, he has served as executive producer of “BBQ Pitmasters” on TLC and Destination America.
• Chick McGee (Charles Fout Hayes)—A 1976 London graduate, McGee is a radio personality on the nationally syndicated and award-winning “The Bob and Tom Show.” He began his career at a 1,000-watt radio station in West Virginia and held various on-air positions at stations in West Virginia and Ohio. He joined “The Bob and Tom Show” in 1986 as the announcer, eventually expanding his duties to sports and humor. He is heard on over 150 radio stations daily. He started podcasting “Off the Air with Chick McGee” in 2012.
• Clint Morse—A 1953 London graduate, Morse played trombone in the high school band. By his senior year, he learned how to play all of the band instruments, as well as piano, guitar, mandolin, banjo and string bass. He began playing gigs at the age of 15 with a square-dance band and went on to play with many bands around Columbus. He toured with the “Stars of Lawrence Welk.” The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra has performed some of his orchestrations. Many of his choir compositions have been published. Morse was instrumental to the success of Madison County Arts Council’s musical revues and he contributed greatly to the London First Presbyterian Church music program. He passed away in 2011.
• Larry Peters—A 1965 London graduate, Peters played tuba and sousaphone in the high school band. While teaching at West Jefferson High School, he worked evenings and weekends as a wedding photographer. He opened Main Street Photography in 1974. Peters Photography became the first studio in Ohio to offer outdoor senior portraits. In 1982, the studio was recognized as a leader in the field of senior portraits. Peters has lectured in 46 states and internationally about his methods. He has made innovations in photo props and lighting. His latest innovation is underwater portraits for seniors and children.
• Phil Shipley—A 1974 London graduate, Shipley taught percussion for the high school marching band. He is principal percussionist with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (CSO), with which he has performed since 1982. Prior to his time with CSO, Shipley toured and performed with various musical groups and Broadway shows throughout the United States and abroad. As a recording artist, he has performed on national television themes and for commercials. He is also involved in a new electronic music project combining hip hop, Hindu, and Klezmer music.
• Diane Slagle—A 1973 London graduate, Slagle is an adjunct instructor of music and the staff accompanist at Wittenberg University. She performs with the Wittenberg Singers, Wittenberg Choir and Wittenberg Opera Studio. She previously taught elementary music and has directed adult and children’s choruses. Slagle maintains a private piano studio in her home in London. She served as children’s choir director, Christmas play director and substitute organist at First United Methodist Church in London and is the accompanist for Columbus Chamber Singers.
• Jim Smith—A 1954 London graduate, Smith has been a fixture on the local theater and arts scence since 1979, participating in London School Community Theatre, London Players, Madison County Arts Council, Grandparents Living Theatre, ICON Studios, WCMH Channel 4, London Library and Columbus State Community College productions. His readings of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” are among the most requested at Madison County Arts Council’s annual Sounds of the Season. He is a member of First Presbyterian Church’s adult choir and men’s ensemble.
• Dave Trent—Trent taught band and choir at London City Schools from 1981 to 2005. He took the high school marching band to state finals 18 times and created the annual Madison County marching band festival. He previously served as band director at West Jefferson and Bloom Carroll high schools. During his military service, Trent played with the United States Navy Band in Naples, Italy. He has served as a marching band adjudicator for the Ohio Music Education Association for over 32 years.