Top soloist for 70 years, Kenny ‘Ace’ Petersen passes away in Florida

Posted on February 23rd, 2022 by Gail Langan

World Drum Corps Hall of Fame member Kenny “Ace” Petersen, whose remarkable career as one of the drum corps community’s top soprano soloists began in 1947, passed away at age 90 in St. Petersburg, Florida on Saturday February19.  Visitation will take place from 10 am to noon on March 5 at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Penn Yan, New York, where he was born, with a funeral service to follow at the church. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a contribution in his honor to Yates County Humane Society, PO Box 12, Penn Yan, NY 14527, or via

Inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame in 2005, he was also a member of the Bugler’s Hall of Fame, inducted by famous band-leader and jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson.  He regularly won individual championships in contests across New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and over the border in Ontario. He was highly regarded by his peers for teaching young adults both music and life lessons, helping many individuals succeed when they had previously been struggling with various challenges.

He began playing trumpet at age 9.  By the early 1950s, he was featured field soloist with Geneva Appleknockers, noted already for his tone, range and power.  He was also a featured soloist for the Appleknockers indoor stage shows at Carnegie Hall and other venues across upstate New York and beyond.

He spent two different periods performing in contests, parades and winter concerts with the Appleknockers: from 1951 to 1964, and from 1982 to 1985.  In between, he served as corps director.  He was brass instructor for the Tri County Cadets and Appleknockers between 1958 and 1964, and taught both brass and marching to the Firebells, Appleknockers and the Mello Dears all girl corps between 1957 and 1998. He judged music and marching in many parades and contests between 1958 and 1970. 

He returned to the contest field in 1991 at age 60 to help Empire Statesmen of Rochester win the Drum Corps Associates (DCA) world championship.  He also marched with and served as administrator for Ghost Riders mini corps beginning in 1997, winning another DCA title in the early 2000s.

He moved to Mighty St. Joe’s Alumni Corps in 1994, still playing solo soprano during many indoor and outdoor exhibitions before retiring from the activity at age 86.

He was a life member of the Elks Club in Penn Yan, the Moose Club and Sons of American Legion.  He was predeceased by Phyllis, his wife of 64 years, and son Dane.

He is survived by son Chris (Barb) Petersen of Riverview, Florida and daughter Kenna (Carl) Fischer of St. Petersburg, Florida; sisters-in-law Pat Pedersen of Penn Yan, Babe Ferraro of Geneva and Alice Pedersen of Farmington. 

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Robby Robinson, founding director of the Crossmen, passes away February 14

Posted on February 20th, 2022 by Gail Langan

A World Drum Corps Hall of Fame member since 2008, Harold “Robby” Robinson, Sr. passed away at age 84 on Valentine’s Day February 14, surrounded by family members.  He had been experiencing major organ failure a few days previously while a patient at Lancaster General Hospital in Pennsylvania.  A memorial service and celebration of life will be held at a later time. 

In 1974, Robby Robinson was the founding director of the Crossmen drum and bugle corps, the highly successful group formed by merging two junior corps in the Philadelphia area: the 507 Hornets and Keystone Regiment.  He served as director until 1986.  The Crossmen finished in the Drum Corps International (DCI) finals 22 times in the 30 years following the merger.

Earlier in his drum corps career, he was a snare drummer with the Tri Community Cadets from 1952 to 1960.  He was the snare drummer in the percussion quartet that won the annual Mid-Atlantic Individual/Quartet title from 1956 to 1959.  He is a member of the Crossmen Hall of Fame.

He taught marching and maneuvering to the Haddon Heights Vagabonds in 1960, then taught the percussion section of the 1st State Cadets of Delaware from 1961 to 1963.  He was the marching and maneuvering instructor for the Bellaires of Belmar, New Jersey from 1961 to 1966 and Tri Community Cadets from 1968 to 1971.  He became director of Tri Community in 1971, then served as director of the Keystone Regiment from 1972 to 1974.

He judged the marching caption for the National Association of Judges from 1961 to 1985 and percussion from 1961 to 1975.  He was a member of the first DCI judging task force from 1981 to 1984.

His son Robbie Robinson Jr. is also a member of the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame, inducted in 2007.  He is the first drummer to win three Drum Corps International (DCI) individual snare-drumming titles.  He won the titles in 1979, 1980 and 1982.

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Bob Holton passes at age 86 after decades of service to Skyliners and other corps 

Posted on February 16th, 2022 by Gail Langan

Bob Holton, who spent more than 30 years serving New York Skyliners and other prominent drum and bugle corps, passed away overnight on February 14 at age 86 at Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, New Jersey.   He had been inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992.

Born in Bayonne, NJ on August 29, 1935, he served in the United States Army as a First Lieutenant in the Adjutant General Corps.  In civilian life, he became Director of Credit at Toshiba America in Wayne, NJ.  Visitation at Day Funeral Home in Keyport NJ was scheduled for the afternoon and evening of February 17.  Internment at St. Gertrude’s Cemetery in Colonia NJ followed a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Clement’s Roman Catholic Church in Matawan on Friday, February 18.

He supported several charities that included MS Walk Team Family Feat and Rahway Relay for Life.  In lieu of flowers, friends may make a donation to the American Cancer Society.  To plant a tree in his memory, visit the Day Funeral Home website at:

His lifetime of drum and bugle corps activity began when he played soprano horn for the F. A. MacKenzie Post 165 drum and bugle corps and St. Vincent’s Cadets, of Bayonne, NJ.  He then marched for more than 30 years in the color guard of New York Skyliners.

He also functioned at various times as Skyliners’ drill designer, marching instructor and show co-ordinator.  He was also treasurer, assistant director and director of Skyliners.  

He was color guard co-ordinator and marching instructor for St. Andrew’s Bridgemen and marching instructor for other corps, including New London Surfers, Cranford Patriots, New York Lancers and Wayne Monarchs.

He was a judge in a number of organizations, including Eastern States, Cavalcade, All American and National judges associations. He was the first to use a live animal in a field show.  When the Bridgemen played the William Tell Overture, popularly known as the theme from The Lone Ranger television show: a white horse and rider entered the field and galloped to the 50 yard line, where the horse rose on its hind legs to salute the crowd.  He was also the first to depart from the use of conventional flags, when he designed a stylized black, red and white letter “S” flag used by Skyliners’ color guard. 

He is predeceased by his son Sean R. Holton, also a long time member of the Skyliners organization who was inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame as a charter associate member in 2001. He is survived by his wife Carol A. (nee Taylor) Holton, children Stacey Holton-Tobin and her husband Robert, Jeffrey and his wife Bonnie, daughter in law Patricia Holton and grandchildren Kalen Tobin, Erin and Logan Holton.

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Neal Smith begins his term as president

Posted on December 22nd, 2021 by Gail Langan

Neal Smith, of Canton, Massachusetts is the new president of the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame (WDCHoF).  Outgoing president Rich Templin announced Smith’s appointment during the annual banquet and induction ceremony held in late November in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.  Templin, of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania had served as president since September 2013.

Smith became a member of the Hall of Fame in 2008, following extensive involvement in drum and bugle corps activities including, performing, visual design and judging over several decades.

His design innovations helped change the look of field shows. His visual design talents helped North Star, formed by the amalgamation of the Reveries, of Revere, Massachusetts, Blue Angels of Danvers and Beverly Cardinals, become a Drum Corps International (DCI) finalist in their third year of competition.  The 11-member snare line of North Star, from the North Shore of Massachusetts, was widely recognized as the ‘Chrome Wall,’ named for the chrome finish on the drums.

He created the field show design for Connecticut Hurricanes in 1981, winning all visual captions at the Drum Corps Associates (DCA) championships.  The following year, the Hurricanes won high visual at the DCA championships.

In the 20 years following his first design for North Star in 1976, he was visual designer for many other top-rated corps in the northeast, including 21st Lancers, Rockland Defenders, Boston Crusaders, Connecticut Hurricanes, Rhode Island Matadors and Hawthorne Caballeros.  

He performed with Boston Crusaders from 1961 to 1971 as soprano soloist and drum major.  He was a Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) national champion four times: three times as a performer and once as designer.

He has also served as a visual judge for four organizations: Drum Corps Associates (DCA), Massachusetts Judges Association, New England Scholastic Band Association, United States Scholastic Band Association.

His brother Anthony Smith was inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame in 2012.

Other current officers on the Hall of Fame board include: Vice President: Bob Findley; Administrator: Larry Hershman; Secretary: Bob Cardaneo; Treasurer: Rich Warga; Membership Chairman: Rick Morey; Public Relations: Roy Wilson; Merchandising Chairman: Roman Blenski; Program Committee/Chaplain: Bill McGrath; Webmaster: Gail Langan; Distinguished Professional Achievement Award: Joe Marrella; Associate Membership: Bob Bradley; Scholarship Fund: Rick Anderson.

The late Vince Bruni of Rochester, New York, who passed away on the Friday evening of the DCA championship tournament weekend in 2003, founded the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame in 1976.  Membership has since grown from six charter members – Vince Bruni, George Bull, Jim Costello, Henry “Lefty” Mayer, Harvey Olderman, Vinnie Ratford – to more than 550 members who have contributed to the activity across North America, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, the Middle East, South Africa and Japan.

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Service and Internment for Eric Landis to Take Place December 22

Posted on December 19th, 2021 by Gail Langan

Visitation and funeral services for Eric Landis are scheduled for the morning of December 22 at Healey Funeral Home, 9 White Horse Pike in Haddon Heights, New Jersey.  He passed away December 15 at the age of 78 after a brief illness.  Internment following the service is at New St. Mary’s Cemetery in Bellmawr.

The funeral celebration will be video recorded for viewing by those not able to attend in person. 

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003, Eric Landis began his many years of drum corps and bugle corps activity playing snare drum with the York White Roses in York, Pennsylvania.  He played with the United States Air Force drum and bugle corps from 1961 to 1964, and over the next 20 years performed for such well-known groups as Reading Buccaneers, Bangor Yellow Jackets, and Archer-Epler Musketeers.

He was also drum instructor for a number of corps from 1961 to 1984, including Audubon Bon Bons all girl corps, Chessmen, Crossmen, Garfield Cadets and Archer-Epler.

He was a percussion judge for almost 30 years, from 1970 to 1999, for Drum Corps International (DCI), Drum Corps Associates (DCA) and the National Judges Association.  In the following years, he instructed many championship high school percussion sections.

He is survived by Julia, his wife of 56 years; four children: Jeanne Sykes and her husband Weldon, Adam Landis and his wife Jennifer, Susan Eley and her husband Benjamin and Sean Keegan-Landis and his wife Maggy; four siblings: Alec, Marc, Scott and Ione and seven grandchildren.  He was an active member of Trinity Lutheran Church of Runnemede, NJ.

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Three female university students each receive $500 scholarship

Posted on December 13th, 2021 by Gail Langan

The World Drum Corps Hall of Fame (WDCHoF) presented $500 scholarship awards to each of three recipients during the annual induction ceremony and banquet held recently in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

The three female winners, all currently studying in university, are Rebecca “Beca” Findley, Annika Hlywa and Julia Troy.  Two of the scholarship awards were funded by donations from two alumni corps.  Any associate or regular Hall of Fame member in good standing can recommend an applicant, who must be a current high school, college or university student or current active member of a drum and bugle corps.

Beca Findley is a senior at the University of Maine in the college of Education and Human Development, majoring in Kinesiology with a concentration in Exercise Science. She plans to graduate school next year then continue studies for a masters and/or doctorate in Occupational Therapy.  She is a member of the school softball team, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and American Sign Language Club.  In summer, she plays for the Stratford Brakettes softball team and helps coach local youth teams near her hometown of Seymour, Connecticut over summers and during school breaks.

Annika Hlywa, of Bluffton, South Carolina, is studying psychology, with concentration in forensics, at the University of New Haven.  She has an extensive music background, performing with the Crossmen drum and bugle corps and the University of New Haven Marching Band. 

Her scholarship was presented in memory of Donald Friesing, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001.  He first played drums with the Joseph B. Garrity Post American Legion in 1938.  By 1943 he was teaching others to drum, and over the following 50 years produced many of the most accomplished percussion players in the drum corps community.  He drummed for eight years with the Raymond A. Gabarina Post (Skyliners).  He was a participant in the founding meeting for the organization of Drum Corps Associates (DCA)

Julia Troy, of Levittown, New York, is currently a freshman at Binghamton University who will be attending Hofstra University in the spring.  Her current major is Biology on the Pre-Med track. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Biology she plans to continue on to Physician Assistant (PA) School, a two/three year program leading to a Master’s degree in PA Studies.  She is currently a member of the Wishmaker’s Club, Paws and Effects Club and American Red Cross Club. At home, she works at a bakery and babysits children for multiple families. 

Her scholarship was presented in memory of Richard “Butch” Anderson, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992 and best remembered as the flamboyant drum major of the New York Skyliners throughout the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.  He joined Skyliners in 1970, as a soprano player. He was also a solo soprano player, horn instructor and show co-ordinator with Skyliners.  He also marched as drum major with both the Marksmen and Syracuse Brigadiers.

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Celebration of life to come soon for Art Mura, whose connection to Holy Name Cadets began in 1937 at age eight

Posted on November 11th, 2021 by Gail Langan

A celebration of life will be held in the near future for Art Mura, who passed away November 5, 2021.   

His brother Al was already a member, inducted in 1989, when Art was inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame in 2002.  He had been elected to the New Jersey Drum Corps Hall of Fame a year earlier and was named to the Cadets Hall of Fame in 2010.  

His lifelong connection with one of the best-known and highly regarded drum and bugle corps in North America, began at age eight in 1937 when he joined the Holy Name Cadets, later to become the Garfield Cadets. 

The Mura family lived in Garfield, New Jersey around the corner from Most Holy Name Catholic Church, so interaction with the drum and bugle corps was an everyday occurrence.  Three family members, Al, Charles and Marc were founding members of the corps, with Art and two other brothers Edward and Louis joining soon after.

He was a junior drum major for three years before playing bugle for one year.  In 1942, he moved to the percussion section as a snare drummer, performing through 1949.  During 12 years with the Cadets, the corps won its first three national championships: in 1940, 1948 and 1949.  He also won the Bergen County and New Jersey State individual snare drumming titles in 1946 and 1947 and was runner-up in 1948 and 1949.

After his discharge from the U.S. Army in 1953, he joined the Hawthorne Caballeros snare line.  The Caballeros won the American Legion senior national title that year, while the Cadets won the junior title.

For more than 20 years he was a rudimental drum instructor to junior corps including the Garfield Cadet Plebes, Paterson Cadets, Dumont Police Cadets, St. Ann’s Cadets, Wood Ridge Townsmen, and the Hawthorne Muchachos.  
He served as a percussion judge with the Charles R. Nabor Eastern States Judges Association, the Mid-Atlantic and the Drum Corps Associates (DCA) judges associations from 1958 through 1982.

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Charter associate member Bob Bond passes away at age 80 after decades of contribution to drum corps activity on both sides of border

Posted on November 11th, 2021 by Gail Langan

Charter associate member Bob Bond, one of the initial class of associates inducted in 2001, passed away November 4 at age 80.  He had been active in drum and bugle corps operations on both sides of the Canada/United States border for more than half a century, serving in various performing, instructing, judging and administration positions with junior and senior competing corps and alumni corps.  He was born in Toronto and later lived for many years in the Rochester area.

A celebration of his life will be announced at a later time.  Drum corps was a full family commitment.  His late wife Diana, an associate member inducted in 2002, also served as a performer, instructor and administrator for corps in Ontario and New York state beginning as a member of the colour guard in the Alpine Girls drum and bugle corps in Rochester.  Two sons and a daughter marched with Garfield Cadets and Phantom Regiment. 

Bob Bond first became involved in drum and bugle corps activity in the 1950s, beginning as a bugler in the Westhill Lions Club drum corps in Toronto.

He was a member of such top Canadian corps as Preston Scout House, Toronto Optimists, Jolly Jesters and Canadian Commanders.  He also played soprano horn with New York Skyliners for three years before serving as business manager and drill manager of the Peterborough Crescendos. He was also the drill writer and drum major of Kawartha Kavaliers in the Peterborough area.

Moving back to New York state in 1979, he became director of the Greece Shoreliners in the Rochester area, and director of the Greece Cadets. He was a playing member and sometimes drum major for the Skyliners and Hawthorne Caballeros.  He was a member of the administrative staff when the Empire Statesmen were founded by Vince Bruni in 1983.  He also served on the administration staff again from 1999 to 2004.

He marched as drum major of Mighty St. Joe’s alumni corps during two separate periods. From 1981 to ‘89, he was a marching and maneuvering judge and consultant.

Predeceased by his wife and brother Barry he is survived by his brother Nelson (Marie) Bond, sons Kevin (Laney) Bond, Robert (Wendy) Bond, Jr., daughter Denise (Andrew) MacKinnon, three grandsons and two step-grandsons.

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Hall of Fame selects Bucs and Blue Devils for second time as corps of the decade

Posted on August 14th, 2021 by Gail Langan

The World Drum Corps Hall of Fame has named Reading Buccaneers and Blue Devils as corps of the decade 2010 to 2019.  Both organizations have previously been honored: Blue Devils as junior corps of the decade 1980 to 1989 and Buccaneers as all-age (previously senior) corps of the decade 2000 to 2009.

The Buccaneers of Reading, Pennsylvania, won the Drum Corps Associates (DCA) championship nine times in the past decade, including eight years in a row from 2012 to 2019.   The Blue Devils of Concord, California were Drum Corps International (DCI) chsmpions six times in the decade.

Blue Devils have expanded operations far beyond the drum and bugle contest field since 1957 when the Concord Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) branch founded Blue Devils Performing Arts (BDPA) after acquiring the Martinettes, a local all boy drum section and all girl drill team.  The group’s new name referred to the color blue associated with the VFW and local landmark Mount Diablo.  With fewer than 50 members, the Blue Devils began as an all boy drum line and separate all girl marching team. 

In 1958, the Blue Devils became a drum and bell corps by adding glockenspiels to the percussion line.  A color guard was added in 1961.  The drum and bell corps, including boys and girls, dominated in that era as well, going undefeated in the California state championships for 13 years.  The Blue Devils became a drum and bugle corps in 1970, adding 10 brass players to the drum and bell unit.  The corps first toured nationally in 1973.  Blue Devils swept all categories to win their first DCI title in 1976, never finishing out of the top five since then.

The organization now includes Blue Devils Music School with students as young as four; the Diablo Wind Symphony serving students ages 14 to 18; an On-Stage series of theatre productions; performances and clinics with world-renowned artists; BD Entertainment, offering site-specific entertainment for corporate events, trade shows and special events including live television performances.

Buccaneers are DCA charter members, winning the inaugural championship title in 1965.  Since then the Bucs have become the most decorated corps in DCA history, winning 17 titles, finishing second nine times and third seven times.  The Buccaneers were DCA champions on their 50th anniversary in 2007 and 60th anniversary in 2017 and were the final corps to win the VFW national title in 1962, after which the award was retired.

The Reading Buccaneers originated in 1957 as a parade corps including former members of local junior corps and veterans of both World War II and the Korean War.  For the first appearance corps members wore borrowed trousers and played instruments purchased with borrowed money.  The ship’s wheel featured in the corps logo reflects the Bucs initial nautical theme.

The leap from parade corps to the competition field came May 30, 1958 when the Buccaneers performed at the Preview of Champions in Jersey City to fill in for a corps that had cancelled on short notice.

Field contests in the VFW circuit began the same year, with the Bucs taking the title three years in a row: 1960, 1961 and 1962.

Junior and all age corps selected by the Hall of Fame for earlier decades are: 1940 to 1949: Holy Name Cadets and Lt. Norman Prince; 1950 to 1959: St. Vincent’s Cadets and Reilly Raiders; 1960 to 1969: Chicago Cavaliers and Hawthorne Caballeros; 1970 to 1979: Santa Clara Vanguard and Hawthorne Caballeros; 1980 to 1989: Blue Devils and Sunrisers; 1990 to 1999: Cadets of Bergen County and Empire Statesmen; 2000 to 2009: Cavaliers of Rosemont and Reading Buccaneers.

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Joseph T. Capone passed away at the age of 98 on June 16, 2021

Posted on July 28th, 2021 by Gail Langan

Joseph T. Capone passed away at the age of 98 on June 16, 2021, in Pittsburgh, PA. Interment with military honors took place on June 25th.

Joe was one of the founding organizers of the Pittsburgh Rockets Drum and Bugle Corps, serving as the units’ business manager for 27 years. He was inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame in 1980. He was the last of the original seven corps directors who voted to form Drum Corps Associates in 1963. Joe stayed active in the WDCHF for many years serving as the historian and chaplain, honoring the deceased members.

He was the second of four generations in his family that marched in drum corps. His father (Florindo) marched in a post-WWI drum corps affiliated with the local American Legion; it was his vision that created the Rockets in 1947.  Joe, along with his brothers Carmen and Valentino were long-time members of the Rockets with Val joining him as a member of the WDCHF in 1985. The third generation included Joe’s sons, Jim, Thom and Joe marching with the Rockets and Thom with Steel City Ambassadors. Thom’s sons Leo and Tony round out the 4th generation with Tony (Cadets2 and the Cadets), and Leo (Cadets2, Bluecoats and currently the “Commandants Own” Marine Drum & Bugle Corps). 

During World War II, Joe served with the 104th “Timberwolf” Infantry Division, 415th Regiment, Company E, in the European Theatre of Operations as a rifleman scout. During his tour of duty, he participated in four major campaigns in Northern France, the Netherlands, Ardennes, and Rhineland. He was subsequently awarded the Bronze Star (with cluster), Purple Heart (2 clusters) Combat Infantryman Badge, Presidential Unit Citation (with cluster), and Good Conduct Medal. In 2009, he was awarded the French Legion of Honor at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh.

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