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Published: Wednesday, 5/12/2010

Dean's focus was to bring art, music to Defiance


DEFIANCE - Richard Stroede, 70, dean emeritus of Defiance College and a promoter of music and the arts, died of pancreatic cancer Saturday in the Defiance Hospice Center.

During his 40 years as a professor and administrator at Defiance College, Mr. Stroede taught music education, theory, and history and held many prominent positions, including chairman of the college's music department and the Division of Fine Arts. He became associate academic dean of Defiance College in 1992 and eventually was named acting president.

He was instrumental in bringing numerous artistic performances to the Defiance community and founded the Defiance College Community Band.

Born in Wisconsin, Mr. Stroede married his high school sweetheart, Emily Fulton, in 1960. Mrs. Stroede said her husband's interest in music blossomed from his time in the band. "His love of music was phenomenal," she said. "That was the start of it all for him."

Mr. Stroede earned a bachelor's degree in music education from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1961 and a master's degree in music theory from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1962. He completed course work in music composition with a minor in music education at UW-Madison. In 1994, he earned a PhD in administration and management from Walden University, Minnesota.

After two years as a high school band director in Wisconsin, in 1964 he arrived at Defiance College, where he spent the rest of his professional career.

Mr. Stroede headed the college's FORUM series for 10 years, where he drew in prominent performers including the piano duo of Ferrante and Teicher, musical humorist Victor Borge, and the Houston Symphony conducted by Andre Previn.

In 1976, Mr. Stroede founded the Schomburg Series, a popular college-community series of music, theater, and dance that continues to this day. He founded the Collegium Chorale in 1980 and was its director until 1992.

Defiance College President Mark C. Gordon said Mr. Stroede was a respected faculty member and administrator who cared passionately about his students.

"He was a very thoughtful fellow, also a very determined fellow who knew how to get things done," Mr. Gordon said. "In some cases, he was a real visionary."

At the college and in the Defiance community, Mr. Stroede played a huge role in promoting the arts.

He organized the Defiance College Community Band in 1978 and directed it until 1990. After retiring from Defiance College, Mr.

Stroede focused on increasing community-based arts in the city of Defiance.

In 2006, he became the incorporator and first executive director of the Defiance Community Cultural Council.

In that role, he co-founded the Defiance Music in Your Parks summer concert series and founded the DCCC Presents concert series "Sunday at the Center" and "Bands, Bands, Bands!"

Mr. Stroede's son Andrew said his father was best known for his involvement in Handel's Messiah.

"Christmas time was when he really came alive," his son said. "It pretty much seemed like the whole town looked forward to that."

Mr. Stroede is survived by his wife, Emily, son, Andrew, daughter, Beth Lynn Moehle, brothers, Ernest and August, four grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.

A memorial service has not yet been scheduled. Internment will be held at the Davis Corners Cemetery in Adams County, Wisconsin.

Memorial contributions may be sent to the Richard W. Stroede Scholarship Fund in care of Defiance College.

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