Remembering Al Horsky
Former LHS band director and mentor of the Logan Marching Chieftains
A man popular with many student musicians, Logan High School alumni and community members has passed away.
Al Horsky, beloved former Logan High School band director, died Monday morning. (December 27th 2010) He was 85.
“Al Horsky was my teacher, my friend, and my mentor. He obviously had a tremendous impact on me and hundreds of others,” said LHS band director Jeff North. “We were blessed to have him in our lives.”
Elmer G. “Al” Horsky led the Marching Chieftains for 20 years before hanging up his baton. He holds the record for the longest tenure by a band director in LHS history. ( Now surpassed by Jeff North 30 years, Pam Price 33 years and Ben Wright 24 years)
“He was my teacher when I was in seventh through 12th grade. He was my band director, and then after I became band director we continued our friendship,” said North, who graduated in 1981. “That’s why I became a band director and have been teaching for 24 years.”
Even in retirement, Horsky returned to the football stadium to direct the Logan High School Alumni Band. It was in this that his impact reached beyond students who attended LHS during those two decades to another generation of students and Chieftain fans.
He shared with them something that had long been a part of his life, even before he began to instruct.
Horsky was a teenage trombone player with the Gene Dolzall Band. Later, after serving his country in World War II, he became a professional musician, playing with a variety of groups, including the Skeets Coronis Band, the Wib Lanning Campus Dance Band at Ohio University (where he became a student in 1949) and the Dick Buntz Band. He was a founding member of the dance band The Ohioans.
In 1953, Horsky graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor’s degree in education. He spent 10 years instructing at The Plains High School, simultaneously earning his master’s degree in education.
He joined the Logan school system in 1963. Horsky has the distinction of leading his bands to earn “superior” ratings 10 times at state competitions and “excellent” on seven other occasions during his long career at LHS. He retired in 1983.
“I had the good fortune of being associated with Al Horsky during his entire career in the Logan-Hocking Schools and had a true appreciation of his and his band’s many accomplishments,” said former Logan-Hocking Superintendent Joe Murtha. “Al Horsky was a perfectionist and he expected his students and their band, the Marching Chieftains, to be as near perfect as possible.”
In 1986, Horsky received a service award from the Ohio University School of Music’s Society of Alumni & Friends, where he served on the society’s board of directors. He also conducted the OU Summer Under the Elms concert.
Horsky was inducted into the Logan-Hocking Educators Hall of Fame in 1992. In a Logan Daily News article detailing the event, Margaret Merrill was quoted as saying, “Known as the taskmaster of the Logan Marching Chieftains, Al has gained the respect of educators throughout the midwest. His band was noted for following the traditionalist format of entertainment in contrast to the drill team format of most bands. His main goal was to have his students and the community grow in musical excellence and appreciation. He was noted for his discipline and constant drive for excellence.”
Murtha said Monday, “He was a dedicated, caring, hard-working teacher. Mr. Horsky had high standards, and he shared these expectations with the Marching Chieftains. He set the bar high for those who follow.”
The Al Horsky Award, established by current band directors and former students Jeff North and Pam Price, is given each year to “someone who displays only the best in musical excellence and attitude through hard work and dedication.”
And the Horsky legacy continues.
By: Rochelle Hawk, Logan Daily News