Robert W. Krueger, Northport’s first Director of
Music Education and the Founder & Director of the Northport Community Band,
died Monday after a short illness. He celebrated his 86th birthday
in late May and had recently finished conducting his 55th
consecutive season with the band, making him the longest-serving
founder and conductor of a community band in America.
Krueger was born in Adrian, Michigan, where he attended public school. By the time he reached junior high school, he was taking private piano and cornet lessons. During high school, he played trumpet in dance bands throughout southern Michigan. After serving in the Air Force during World War II, he entered Northwestern University as a music education major and continued to play professionally in dance bands playing the Big Band music that was so popular during the 1930's and 1940's. Krueger received both his Bachelors and Masters degrees from Northwestern University.
Krueger’s first teaching position was as an instrumental music teacher for grades 4-12 in Manhasset, where his bands won statewide acclaim. In 1957 he arrived in Northport to fill the newly created position of Director of Music Education. Under his tutelage, the Northport High School Marching Band played at more NY Jets half-time shows than any other high school in the New York metropolitan area; played at the opening game of the World Series in 1981 and was the official band of New York State at the1965 World’s Fair.
During his 27 years in the Northport school system, he and his talented staff developed a music program that is still being followed today, and he earned the respect of local, state and national organizations for his contributions to school, community and music education. “Northport Music” became synonymous with a comprehensive music education program of the highest caliber.
Krueger is the only person to be elected to the Presidency of both the
Nassau and Suffolk County Music Educators Associations (NMEA and SCMEA). In
honor of his retirement from the Northport-East Northport Public Schools, May 23, 1982 was proclaimed “Bob Krueger Day” in Northport by former Mayor Peter Nolan
and in the Town of Huntington by former Supervisor Kenneth Butterfield.
Upon his arrival in Northport, Bob learned that the bandstand beautifully situated on the Village Green adjacent to Northport Harbor had not been in use since at least World War II, and he vowed to bring music back to the park. In 1959 he and a group of 17 students and three adults practiced for five weekends, gave their first concert on a Sunday afternoon to entertain their families, friends and neighbors, and the Northport Community Band was born.
Since then, more than 700 people have played in the band, which has become a
fixture in the community and grown to 85 members – three generations of amateur
and professional musicians who practice for 2.5 hours on Tuesdays and attract
music lovers from all over Long Island to the Village Green each week for the
group’s five Thursday evening summer concerts, which feature special groups
like the Jack Daniels Silver Cornet Band and Northport Community Jazz
Orchestra, as well as appearances by guest conductors and performers. A number
of years ago, as a public service, the band added a special sixth concert at
the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center for the benefit of retired
veterans and hospital staff.
After his retirement, Bob Krueger kept active
with a busy music consultancy, embracing such diverse activities as Executive
Director for the New York State Council of Administrators – Suffolk Chapter, in
which he, for many years, supervised all details of the All-County Concert and
also of the County’s delegates to the All-State Festival; Consultant to Newsday
for the Hofstra/Newsday Marching Band Festival; Founder, and for 55 consecutive
years Musical Director of the Northport Community Band; and co-founder of STEP
(Systems Toward Excellence in Performance). Krueger guest conducted and
adjudicated at many music festivals throughout the Northeast. He also
coordinated the Long Island Summer Music Workshop, most recently at SUNY
Farmingdale, at which numerous Long Island high school marching bands hone
their routines and musical skills in a college campus band camp.
To celebrate the group’s 40th anniversary and recognize Kruegar's contribution to the community, then - Northport Village Mayor, Roxanne Browning presented a proclamation designating July 1 as Robert W. Krueger Day and unveiled a monument dedicating the gazebo as the Robert W. Krueger Bandstand.
When the band celebrated its 50th anniversary, among the honors bestowed upon Bob for his service, Mayor George Doll presented him with the first-ever key to Northport Village. The Northport VA Medical Center, in a heartfelt presentation, acknowledged his service as a United States Air Force veteran and citizen, as well as his generosity, compassion, good works and noteworthy contributions to the Northport VA and entire community.
In 2011 the Association of Concert Bands presented Krueger with the Herb and Jean Schultz Mentor Ideal Award. In late 2012, Bob was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame at a ceremony held at the Paramount Theater in Huntington Village.
Krueger resided in Tampa, Florida but returned to Northport every summer to conduct the Northport Community Band and direct the Long Island Summer Music Workshop.
Marjorie, Bob’s wife of 60 years, predeceased him in 2009. He is survived by his four children – Robert W. (Benita) Krueger, Jr. of Highland Park, IL; Pamela (John) Dayton of East Northport, NY; Kristi (Charlie) Carroll of Tampa, FL and Kurt (Theresa) Krueger of Tampa, FL.
Arrangements are as follows:
Viewing: Thursday, 9/12 and Friday, 9/13
2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m.
Brueggemann Funeral Home
522 Larkfield Road, East Northport, NY 11731
Service: Saturday, 9/14, 11 a.m.
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church
120 Vernon Valley Road, East Northport, NY 11731
*Article submitted by Sue Epstein, vice president of the Northport Community Band.