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MSU Profiles

Musical career launched at MSU

As a college freshman, Jerry Spitzer had an inkling he wanted to major in music. However, his experience at Minot State University confirmed that music is his lifelong passion.

"I grew up in Parshall, graduated from high school there in '55, went to Concordia for one year and transferred to Minot State, where I got my degree in spring of '63," Spitzer remembered. "I received excellent musical training and had the ability to be around a lot of really good professors, that's what really solidified my going into music."

Both Spitzer and his wife, Judy (Allen) Spitzer '62, were impacted by Ira Paul Schwarz, director of bands and a composer.

"Dr. Schwarz came to Minot State in '61, and we both took classes from him," Spitzer said. "We learned a lot from him because he was always willing to share. The big memory was when we went to the Seattle World's Fair as North Dakota Band of the Day in 1962. We had a great time and played many concerts. I was also student director of the band and concert choir under John Strohm, so I had experience before I went out and taught."

After getting married, the Spitzers taught in Parshall for three years. They returned to Minot, and Judy taught in the public schools and later as an MSU adjunct music faculty member. Jerry Spitzer sold insurance and worked in banking. He served the Mid-Dakota Chapter of the American Red Cross for 22 years as its executive director and board member. He retired from there in 2002. After two years, he grew tired of retirement and worked part time at Jacobsen Music until 2012. On July 21, Spitzer led his last concert with the 95-year-old Minot City Band after being its music director for 33 years. He continues as subscription chair on the International Artist Series board.

Spitzer directed several musical groups, including church choirs, through the years. He directed the Nodakord Barbershop Chorus for 27 years. He feels honored to have directed two North Dakota Governor's choruses, Parshall Community Male Chorus for Gov. William Guy and the Minot Nodakords for Gov. Art Link. He also played in the Minot Community Concert Band and was a past president.

"The whole Minot scene has been a real upper for me, Judy and our family," Spitzer related. "We have been involved in something 'music' since 1968, when we moved back to Minot. Minot is definitely a musical city."

Four generations of the family have been involved at Minot State University. In 1925, W.D. "Doc" Allen, Judy's father, started Model High, a high school on campus. John Spitzer, their son, is an alumnus. Granddaughter Jasmine Spitzer is a sophomore music major, and her sister, Jewel, will be a freshman this fall.