Dr. John M. Wacker
Thu, 05/15/2014 - 1:15am News Staff
Dr. John M. Wacker passed away from the results of a car accident on May 11 at age 55. John was born on Jan. 30, 1959 to Sarah and Mainard Wacker of Cheyenne, Wyo. John began his musical journey at age 7 in Cheyenne with piano lessons from Lucille Barnum, with whom he studied until graduation from Cheyenne Central High School in 1977. John began playing trumpet in 5th grade and played for the rest of his life. John attended the University of Wyoming for one year before transferring to the University of Northern Colorado, where he graduated in 1983 with a Bachelor Degree in Music Education. John’s teaching career began in Burns, Wyo., where he taught K-12 music, and was later recruited as band director for Central High School in Cheyenne. He rebuilt the music program into an award-winning program, which included state marching band championships. While at Central, John was also an assistant director with the Wyoming All-State Band when they performed in two Rose Bowl parades and a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. John left public school music education to pursue and obtain a Juris Doctorate from the University of Wyoming. He then obtained a Master’s of Music Degree in 2000 from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he studied conducting with Dr. Jack Stamp and trumpet with Steven Dube and Dr. Calvin Weber. He also obtained a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from the University of North Texas, where he studied trumpet with Keith Johnson. While in Texas, he taught private lessons and conducted The Wind Ensemble at Texas Women’s University. Following graduation from North Texas, he became director of bands at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison. In addition to teaching music, John’s greatest love was performing on trumpet. John was very active on an international level with trumpet performance and educational activities. He performed in the Colorado Rocky Mountain Region, including with the Greeley Philharmonic, Fort Collins Symphony and Wyoming Symphony. He was the founding member of Cheyenne Brass and a tenured member of the Cheyenne Symphony. He taught for a brief time at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne. John was active nationally as a trumpet soloist, pit orchestra member, adjudicator and master class clinician. He presented at the Wyoming and Colorado Music Educators Conferences, and was a member of the Music Educators National Conference and the International Trumpet Guild. John began several programs including the Western Chamber Institute, and the Boston Brass Music Camp in Gunnison, and was instrumental in the Western State Colorado University Brass Band. He was active until his death with trumpet engagements in Texas, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska. John was quite simply a master teacher and master performer and touched too many souls to count. John and his wife Nancy Russell were married on March 30, 1996 in Cheyenne, Wyo. They have two children. John is survived by wife Nancy Russell; son Brian Wacker, 13; daughter Elizabeth Wacker, 11, all of whom reside in Gunnison; his parents Mainard and Sarah Wacker of Cheyenne; brothers Jeff (Terri) Wacker, of Indiana, Pa.; Jaye (Jenny) Wacker and niece Hannah of Cheyenne; uncle Don Hawes of Cheyenne; and cousins Joan and Rex Stout, Mark Stout, Caroline Stout-Ramirez and their families, all of Cheyenne. A Celebration of Life Service will be held Saturday, May 17, 2014 at 2 p.m., at the First Congregational Church, 3501 Forrest Drive, Cheyenne, Wyo. A local Celebration of Life will be held in Gunnison at a date to be determined this summer. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to John’s children Brian and Elizabeth, c/o WyHy Credit Union, 1715 Stillwater Ave., Cheyenne, WY. A tribute page will be set up at RunyanMortuary.com.