Remembrances of Former Brass Band Members, by Charles Lietwiler (2009)

Remembrances of Former
Brass Band Members

Over the years, the Rockville Brass Band has had many players. Some of them stand out in my memory. The following are the ones I remember most.

Phillip Cramp. Phil was an independent contractor to the Bureau of Standards. He had a strong Canadian accent. I assume he was born there, but can’t remember if I ever asked him. He told me that his father had been a member of the band of one of the Household Guards regiments and had marched in the funeral procession for King Edward VII in 1910. He played G (bass) trombone. He dropped out of the band because problems with his teeth interfered with his pitch and tone quality. He later played with the Montgomery Village Band.

Jim Rosenberg. Jim was a very good player. He played Solo Cornet for us for a number of years. He played the same role for us as Walt Bodycomb did, i.e., he was the only solo cornet player we had at a time when our cornet section was weak. Jim had been in the Army and played in a band at Ft. MacArthur in the Los Angeles area. He told me how embarrassed he felt one day while playing in a parade. He part sounded terrible, very off-key. He later realized that he had taken a part for F Trumpet and was trying to play it on a Bb trumpet. He played a number of solos for us. I only one I remember at the moment is “Una Voce Poco Fa” from The Barber of Seville”. Jim was in the home remodeling business and lived in Fairfax County. His wife developed multiple sclerosis and he moved to Florida for her health. He later played with the Sunshine Brass Band for several years. In recent years, he developed a throat problem that he associated with playing the Eb Trumpet, so he had to stop playing it. I used to exchange Christmas cards with him. About two years ago, my card was returned marked “Not at this address.” I don’t know his current status or location.

Thomas Oberle. Tom started playing baritone with us when he was still in high school. He was very faithful to the band. After he graduated from high school, we didn’t see him for about twenty years. He became an Emergency Medical Technician (I think), married and had several children. We saw him again while playing at the Sandy Spring Strawberry Festival. He came back to the band and played 1st Baritone. After several years, he developed pneumonia and died in the hospital after a short illness. He was about 42 years old.

David Rice. Dave was a dentist who played several brass instruments. I met him when he was playing with the Rockville Concert Band. He was very interested in the brass band and joined us, playing bass. He was an active supporter of the band. Unfortunately, he had a long-standing case of diabetes. It gradually got worse, and prevented him from coming to rehearsals on a regular basis. One night, he had a heart attack and died suddenly at his home.

Thomas Mangen. Tom played Euphonium with us for a number of years. He worked for a government agency and worked (I believe) on classified material. One of his sons went to West Point. He was very supportive of the band. As time went on, he developed cancer and it began to interfere with his attendance at rehearsals. He was able to come to only a few rehearsals at the end. He died and many of us went to a memorial party for him hosted by his wife.

David Seibert. Dave was a classically-trained Euphonium player and played a number of solos with us. The two that I remember are “Pantomime” by Philip Sparke and “My Old Kentucky Home” by William Rimmer. He was a fine player. He had to leave the band when his wife got a new job in Dayton, Ohio.

Omer Paquette. Omer was a dentist in the U. S. Army. He played cornet with us and with the Rockville Concert Band. He was a very good player. He was transferred to North Carolina and retired there. He helped found a British brass band and played with it for several years. It disbanded because of the difficulty of getting enough players to come to rehearsals on a regular basis. He still plays with a German band that gives a number of concerts every year. He still sends me a Christmas card every year.

Mark Elrod. I met Mark in the 1970’s. He was a music librarian with the U. S. Marine Band. He also played bass, but not with the band. He was interested in early American brass bands. Over the years, he collected many brass instruments fro the Civil War period and before. At one time, he had more instruments than the Smithsonian Institution. He arranged concerts of early brass band music at places such as the Antitum Battlefield Park and Harper’s Fairy. I played in his band for a number of these concerts, including one at Ford’s Theater. He began playing bass with us in the late 1970’s. His future wife also played with us. We provided the music at their wedding. He later went to work with the National Guard Bureau as a sergeant and retired from the Army as a master sergeant. He currently lives in the Germantown area.

Bruce Douglass. Bruce played euphonium with us for a number of years. He was very dependable. He worked for several companies that did worked in the field of mass transportation. He dropped out of the band because of frequent trips that he had to take because of his job and some health problems. I saw him at the 50th Anniversary Concert of the Rockville Concert Band in 2006.