sealPurdue News

April 25, 1997

Purdue Bands launch $2 million fund-raising campaign

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. --Two alumni -- the first man on the moon and the founder of an Indiana utility company -- are helping to launch a $2 million fund-raising campaign for the Purdue University Bands.

James "Orville" Martin, Rockport , founder and former CEO of Lincoln Natural Gas Co. (now part of Southern Indiana Gas & Electric Co.) has contributed $50,000; former astronaut Neil Armstrong has given $10,000.

The bands' first-ever capital campaign, A Song Anew: Tuning Up For The Future, will be launched Saturday (4/26) during an alumni reunion weekend. The campaign will run through Homecoming 1999. The goal is to raise $400,000 for band scholarships, $800,000 for new instruments, and $800,000 to support student travel opportunities. So far, approximately $700,000 in gifts and pledges has been raised.

Martin, who played saxophone in the Purdue "All-American" Marching Band from 1939 to 1942 and graduated in electrical engineering, stated: "The bands department at Purdue holds a lot of good memories for me. But what I think is so fantastic is what Purdue continues to do in music without a music school on campus. The whole bands program is indicative of the Purdue spirit -- that people who really want to make music will do it because they want to, even though it's not part of an academic program."

Armstrong, who marched with the baritone horn in 1952, graduated in aeronautical engineering in 1955. Ten years later he was named an honorary member of Kappa Kappa Psi, a national band honorary. The Kappa Kappa Psi pin that Armstrong wore during his 1969 moon-walk is on display in the bands department.

David A. Leppla, director of bands, said: "This campaign is meant to be a one-time infusion of funds that will add to the annual financial support we receive from our friends and alumni. The $45,000 or so we now raise annually helps with operational costs, but it really doesn't address the meat of the issue. For instance, we need to replace 25 sousaphones at $6,000 a piece. The sousaphones we are playing on were purchased in the 1920s and '30s -- some are literally duct-taped together."

But the horns don't always stay together.

"I can remember one half-time show in Ross-Ade stadium when the band was taking a bow at the end," said Bill Kissinger, associate professor of bands. "As the sousaphone section bent over, one of the bells fell right out of the horn and went rolling out onto the field."

Leppla also plans to broaden the Leath Band Scholarship program that gives $1,000 each to approximately 12 incoming freshmen from Indiana each year.

"I would like to be able to extend the scholarship to out-of-state students and to upper classmen based on band participation." Leppla said. "Right now, we give upper-classmen scholarship assistance only if there is extra money in the scholarship fund."

Jazz Band trombonist Patrick Swisher, a senior from Lafayette, received some of the extra funds this past year to assist his studies in technical graphics. He says the money has helped immensely.

"It helped me purchase books and other school supplies I wouldn't have been able to buy otherwise," said Swisher. "I was working and struggling to make ends meet, and the bands scholarship made it much easier for me to stay on campus."

The campaign is co-chaired by Dr. Al G. Wright, director of bands emeritus, and June Ciampa Lauer, a former Golden Girl who earned an education degree in 1965. The campaign advisory board consists of 21 band alums and friends. Gifts include:

The bands department is more than 111 years old with more than 9,000 band alumni in the United States. The marching, concert and jazz bands involve more than 600 students at the West Lafayette campus. They travel throughout the world as goodwill ambassadors for Purdue and the state of Indiana.


Sources: David A. Leppla, (765) 494-0770
Orville Martin, (812) 649-2311
Bill Kissinger (765) 494-3955
Patrick Swisher (765) 495-1831
writer: Kate Walker, (765) 494-2073; e-mail,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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