Share Tweet Share Email

NIU remembers longtime band director Gordon Bird

June 26, 2014
Gordon Bird

Gordon Bird

Gordon Bird, professor of music and director of bands at NIU from 1960 until his retirement in 1983, died June 16 at Oak Crest DeKalb Area Retirement Center. He was 99.

Bird held a bachelor’s degree from Drake University, a master of music degree from Northwestern University and a doctorate of education from Columbia University Teachers College.

As director of bands and professor of trumpet at Drake University, he helped produce the Drake Relays programs; one “jubilee performance” featured more than 60 Iowa high school bands.

In February of 1969, he took the oath of office to lead the 10-state North Central Division of the College Band Directors National Association.

Three months later, he was elected president of the Illinois Music Educators Association in 1969, making him one of only a few educator to have held this top professional post in two states. While serving as president of the NIU Annuitants Association in 1987, he was awarded the IMEA’s Distinguished Service Award.

Bird also was a regular guest conductor of the DeKalb Municipal Band and played trumpet in the group for many years.

Burial will be 11 a.m. Friday, June 27, in his hometown of Fairmont, Minn.