Music Men: Community pays tribute to WHS legacies -- Glenn Evensen
Editor's Note: The following was written by Daily Globe columnist Mary Beth Blegen sometime in the early 1990s in tribute to Glenn K. Evensen, Worthington High School band director from 1962-1982. A native of North Dakota, Evensen served in the Pacific Theater during World War II, then attended Luther College, Decorah, Iowa. He taught in Winnnebago for one year and Wadena for 11 years before being hired in Worthington. He died April 1, 1996.
Thirty years ago, Worthington High School was newer and bigger. The community surrounding the school had no sense of the impending changes and probably didn't think much about the '90s. Most of us lived our lives with friends, neighbors and relatives, hoping for more good than bad as one day faded into another.
Glenn Evensen directed the band in the high school. When the Trojan Marching Band hit the street for King Turkey Day, everyone knew it. Glenn stepped high beside the band, making sure that left was left and right was right. Tall and stately, he proudly waved the baton and helped the kids make good music. The crowd stood for the band, making sure out-of-town guests knew they were the Trojans.
When our first daughter was born, Glenn and Naomi agreed to be her godparents. They stood with us at her baptism, and Glenn never missed an opportunity to ask where she got that red hair. Not one birthday or other important day in her young life passed without notice from them. Although younger than their children, Kristy reaped the benefits of their attention.
A Trojan band concert filled the gym in those days because the community knew the music would be good, the energy level high, and Glenn would be raring to go as he moved from concert band to jazz band with more than one joke in the process. Always good with Norwegian jokes, he told more Ole and Lena stories than even Ole and Lena might have known. Sometimes we groaned, but only out of knowing that Glenn was at it again.
At football games, Glenn's bands took the field to make music and messages. Marching with precision, the 100-plus kids year after year made shapes to an original script he'd written with some inspiration. Those Trojan hats with the red plumes were his idea. No one else would have thought they would work like they did.
Summer after summer the "Amazing" Worthington City Band under his direction entertained the crowds gathered in Chautauqua Park for moments of nostalgia, good humor and warm evenings with friends. Naomi played the flute and stayed a little in the background. But ask, and Glenn would gladly tell the story of the beautiful young woman who wanted to be in the Luther College Band in 1949 and who had no trouble convincing the band president that she should be there. They married in 1951.
Glenn and Naomi.
Naomi and Glenn.
Community members who have contributed so much to the fabric of our little town on the prairie in southwest Minnesota for so many years.
Their four children are grown now, but Patti, Randy, Mark and Stu grew up here under the watchful eye of their parents. Just weeks ago, Randy and his wife brought Glenn and Naomi's first grandgirl to Worthington so they could revel in her birth. She joins seven grandboys. Always proud, Glenn would pull out pictures of those kids at even the slightest request.
Now Glenn is engaged in a struggle which means more bad days than good. As he wages a battle with the inherited disease of Ataxia, Naomi stands by him loving and caring and remembering.
Our community would not have been the same place through the '60s, '70s and '80s without Glenn and Naomi. His music and her grace offered us something we almost took for granted because it was always there.
We are a small community which has experienced incredible change. One thing that hasn't changed is the people who live here and their importance to each other.
Life changes and is impossible to understand as we stand by and watch people we care about engaged in an incredibly tough struggle.
Glenn and Naomi have given so much to us.
We're thinking of you.