John D. Mohler, Gifted clarinetist, U.S Marine Band member, U. of Michigan professor

By on February 13, 2019

John D. Mohler passed away Feb. 6, 2019in Chelsea, Mich. He was born in Lancaster in 1929, the son of John P. and M. Beatrice (Peiffer) Mohler. Throughout his life he maintained a strong appreciation for his Pennsylvania Dutch heritage, including the town of Lititz and its famous Wilbur Buds.

In 1952, he married Dorothy M. Sheetz in Mount Joy. She preceded him in death on March 17, 2010.

John began clarinet study with several very dedicated music educators. During his high school years he was a student of Salvadore Colangelo, Harrisburg, and he studied with Philadelphia Orchestra clarinetist Ralph McLane at the Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia. In 1950, he joined the United States Marine Band and Orchestra, Washington, D.C., where he appeared frequently as a soloist. He then furthered his education at the University of Michigan School of Music with Dr. William D. Revelli and Professor William Stubbins, and was the University’s first recipient of the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Wind Instrument Performance.

Following two years on the faculty of Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa (1960-62), John returned to the University of Michigan in 1962 as clarinet instructor and clarinetist in the University Woodwind Quintet. From 1979 until his retirement in 1994, he served as chair of the wind and percussion instruments department. John was elected by the School of Music faculty to three terms on the School of Music executive committee. From 1981 to 1984 he was an appointed representative to the University of Michigan Board in Control of Intercollegiate Athletics.

In 1964 and 1975 Ann Arbor May Festivals, he performed eight concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra as a regular member of the clarinet section. John also appeared frequently as clarinet soloist and recitalist throughout the United States as well as at International Clarinet Society and ClariNetwork conferences. While president of the International Clarinet Society (1986-88) he was influential in the movement to merge the two organizations into the present International Clarinet Association. Other faculty appointments were to the Brevard Music Center, North Carolina (1960), the Cumberland Forest Music Camp, Kentucky (1965), and the Interlochen National Music Camp, Michigan (1986-87).

At various times he performed as principal clarinetist of the Toledo and Plymouth Symphony Orchestras and the Detroit and Toledo Concert Bands. Honors received include Phi Beta Kappa (1956), Harold Haugh Award for Excellence in Studio Teaching (1979), Honorary Member, Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (1985), School of Music Alumni Society Citation of Merit (1991), and The University of Michigan Band Alumni Lifetime Achievement Awards (1991 and 2012). He enjoyed many interactions with his students over the years.

John is survived by daughters: Linda Mohler and Carol Mohler (Robert Sammler); son: David Mohler (Elizabeth); granddaughter: Abigail Mohler; step-grandsons: Sean and Devon Smith; and his cherished partner: Doris Pratt, who has been a dear part of his life in later years.

The Mohler family will receive friends for visitation from 1:30 to 3 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 13 with the funeral service to follow at 3 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, 128 Park St., Chelsea, Mich., 48118. A private interment at Arborcrest Memorial Park will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the John Mohler Clarinet Scholarship Fund, The University of Michigan School of Music, 1100 Baits Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2085.

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