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 www.yateshumane.org
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.