Larry Kirkman mentored and taught music to 1000’s of scholars. He performed within the Kokomo Park Band for 66 years, the place he was the longest serving member within the group’s 115-year historical past.
And he was one phenomenal trumpet and saxophone participant, mentioned Keith Whitford, a lifelong pal who’s right this moment the supervisor of the park band.
“Larry excelled in all the pieces he did,” Whitford mentioned.
Kirkman handed away Tuesday morning inside his Kokomo dwelling, abandoning an unmatched musical legacy within the metropolis that spans a long time. He was 81.
Kirkman joined the Kokomo Park Band in 1955 when he was a sophomore at Kokomo Excessive College, the place he additionally based a jazz band known as the Six Sharps with some buddies.
As a baby, Kirkman took classes from the legendary Ross Dwiggins, who directed the park band from 1935 to 1967 and was a much-loved music instructor for 1000’s of scholars over time.
The truth is, it was Dwiggins who received Kirkman into the park band.
Kirkman was enjoying saxophone in 1955, however Dwiggins wanted somebody to play the bass drum within the Bluffton Road Truthful Band, which is made up of members of the Kokomo Park Band.
“He mentioned, ‘Are you aware what a bass drum is?’” Kirkman mentioned in an interview final 12 months. “I mentioned, ‘Sure.’ He mentioned, ‘Good. You’re going to play it.’”
Kirkman ended up serving because the band’s manger for 30 years, and was instrumental in establishing it as one of many premier group bands within the state, drawing topnotch musicians from locations like Indianapolis and Muncie.
However his efficiency credentials didn’t finish there. After highschool, Kirkman began a 15-piece swing orchestra that traveled the U.S. placing on exhibits. He typically landed gigs enjoying within the Glenn Miller Band.
Throughout that point, Kirkman labored on the Postal Service delivering mail to make ends meet for his household. However music was all the time on his thoughts, Whitford mentioned.
“He would run his mail route so he might get completed a pair hours early to go dwelling and apply and write charts for his dance band,” Whitford mentioned.
Kirkman ended up serving to discovered the primary jazz band at Ball State College, the place he attended in his late 20s to main in trumpet efficiency. In Kokomo, he was a longtime performer with Kokomo Civic Theater and Kokomo Symphony.
Kirkman was additionally a wanted instrument repairmen. For years, he ran his personal restore studio fixing woodwind and brass devices. He ultimately arrange store on the Sound of Music retailer within the metropolis’s downtown.
However his greatest legacy was the 1000’s of scholars he taught who went on to grow to be skilled musicians, composers, arrangers and music professors, Whitford mentioned.
“He was closely concerned in all features of music in Kokomo, however most significantly, he impressed tons of and tons of of scholars,” he mentioned.
Whitford mentioned his pal had an uncanny knack for sensing expertise in these he taught, after which difficult them to find and embrace it.
“Larry was actually good at pushing college students effectively past what they thought their capabilities have been,” he mentioned. “He might sense that in college students, even earlier than the scholar realized they’d that expertise.”
Whitford mentioned the group is now mourning Kirkman’s demise, however his reminiscence will dwell on lengthy into the long run via his numerous contributions to increasing and selling music in Kokomo.
“Larry has made fairly the contribution to the humanities in Howard County and past,” he mentioned. “All of us gained lots from Larry. He impressed me after I was simply in highschool, and Kokomo is a greater place due to him.”
A public visitation is ready from 2 to five p.m. March 21 at Shirley & Stout Funeral Dwelling, 1315 W. Lincoln Street, Kokomo.