Funeral Service For WDCHOF Member Lennie Piekarski
Mass of Christian Burial for World Drum Corps Hall of Fame member Leonard “Lennie” Piekarski, will be held 10 am Friday August 8 at Santa Maria del Popolo Chapel, 116 North Lake Street in Mundelein, Illinois. Interment will follow in St. Adalbert’s Cemetery. Visitation will be Thursday from 4-8 pm at the Kristan Funeral Home P.C., 219 West Maple Ave, in Mundelein, located north of Chicago near Waukegan.
He passed away Sunday August 3 at Rainbow Hospice Ark in Park Ridge, Illinois at the age of 88. He was one of the longest serving World Drum Corps Hall of Fame members, being inducted in 1982. He was widely recognized for his contribution to drum and bugle corps activities, particularly with Chicago Cavaliers, for more than 50 years. He was born June 29, 1926 in Milwaukee and adopted into the family of Ben and Betty Piekarski in Chicago.
He is survived by Joan, his wife of 61 years, their five children, Terry (Roger) Krikke, Joe (Helen) Piekarski, Sandy (Brent) Simpson, Carl (Mary) Piekarski, Patti (David) Hehr, eight grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Memorial contributions may be directed to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation at www.specialops.org or the United States Navy Memorial at shipsstore.navymemorial.org
His drum corps career began in 1933 at age 7 as a snare drummer marching with the Palmer Sons of the American Legion (SAL) drum and bugle corps of Chicago. He eventually marched with four different SAL drum and bugle corps. His longest involvement was seven years with Gladstone SAL. He won the 1938 Illinois individual snare drum championship.
His drum corps involvement was interrupted in 1944 when at age 18 when he joined the United States Navy, serving on a light cruiser in the Pacific Theater for 19 months during World War II. He joined the United States Postal Service in 1952 and worked as a letter carrier for 40 years.
After his naval service, he resumed drumming in SAL competition. In 1947, he was with Logan Square SAL. From 1948 until 1950, he again marched with Gladstone. The corps won the SAL championship in Los Angeles in 1950.
He wrote the drill and played in the snare line with Skokie Indians senior drum and bugle corps from 1952 to 1960, his last year as a marching member. During that time, the Skokie Indians won the American Legion (AL) national title three years in a row: in Miami in 1955; in Los Angeles in 1956; and in Atlantic City in 1957.
He was the long-time drill writer and instructor with Chicago Cavaliers and was widely credited with creating and teaching the marching standards and maneuvering patterns that earned the corps the nickname “Green Machine.” During the period he taught drill, the Cavaliers attended 20 national veterans’ conventions, winning the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) national junior title in 1957, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1967 and the American Legion nationals in 1966 and 1967.
The other instructors during this period were Sal Ferrera on horns and Frank Arsenault on drums, composing a trio widely considered the most successful instructing staff in drum corps history. All are members of the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame. The World Drum Corps Hall of Fame selected the Cavaliers the best junior corps of the decade twice: the 1960s and 2000 – 2009.
He also served as a marching instructor, drill designer and consultant for many other well known corps in the Midwest and as far west as California, including Winfield Scott Rebels senior corps of Maywood, Illinois; Rebels of Argonne, Kansas; Phantom Regiment of Rockford, Illinois; Blue Stars of LaCrosse, Wisconsin; the Kingsmen of Anaheim, California and the Boys of ’76 of Racine, Wisconsin.
He was associated with the Central States Judges Association and the Midwest Color Guard Circuit, judging drum corps, color guards and marching bands until the early 1980s.
Seventy years after the first summer he marched, he instructed the Chicago Royal Airs alumni corps, riding in the bus all the way to Scranton, Pennsylvania for the corps’ performance during the Drum Corps Associates (DCA) Alumni Classic concert at Lackawanna County Stadium, one of the events held during the DCA world championship tournament on Labor Day weekend.
The late Vince Bruni of Rochester, New York, who passed away 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 472 regular and associate members from the United States and Canada who have contributed to the activity across North America, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, the Middle East, South Africa and Japan.
For more information about the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame, visit the web site at: http://www.worlddrumcorpshof.org/