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Memorial Set for University Wind Ensemble Founder, Benton Minor


March 05, 2003 :: No. 162

Brent Minor

Benton Minor

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Benton Minor, Professor Emeritus of Music at California State University, Fullerton, and dedicated music educator for forty years, died Tuesday, February 25, 2003, of natural causes. He was 75.

During his 26-year tenure at CSUF, Minor served in a number of capacities including the Director of Bands. He was Department Chair for ten years and founder of the University’s Wind Ensemble. An integral part of the department’s program for outstanding instrumental majors, the Wind Ensemble under Minor’s direction received international acclaim while performing in Europe and Japan.

“Music is life,” Minor once said. “It comes from life,

it stems from our feelings and deals with our emotions.” Minor’s life in music began as a fifth grader playing the tuba at his school in Escondido, California. Later his junior high school band director inspired him to make music his career. After graduating from Escondido High School in 1946, Minor enlisted in the Navy and served as a weatherman for two years in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. After his discharge, he earned a Bachelors of Arts degree in Music Education from UCLA and a Masters of Arts degree in Music Education from Claremont Graduate School.

Prior to joining the faculty at CSUF, Minor was an acclaimed director of high school bands for fourteen years. Bands under his direction were consistently rated among the top groups in California, won numerous awards, and marched in the Rose Parade on five occasions.

One facet of Minor’s legacy is the host of former students who have themselves become highly successful music educators and performers throughout the United States. The professor’s passion for music inspired them to develop their own musicianship. Gene Pokorny, tuba player with the Chicago Symphony, considers Benton Minor “one of the most influential guiding lights” in his career. “Mr. Minor was a person who made a difference in the lives he touched.”

Minor served on the board of the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association, was its president from 1981-1985, and received its Honorary Life Award in 1984. Throughout his career, he guest conducted district, county, and state high school honor bands, and he lead the orchestra for numerous Fullerton Light Opera Company productions. After his retirement in 1993, Minor rediscovered the joy of playing the tuba as a member of the Rose Drive Friends Church Orchestra and the Placentia Community Concert Band.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Geraldine Cassem Minor; daughters Carolynn Reed of Redlands, Denise Newberry of Placentia, Deborah Buckles of Riverside; sons Ronald Minor of Anaheim, and Robert Minor of Fullerton; and seven grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at the Rose Drive Friends Church, 4221 Rose Drive, Yorba Linda on Friday, March 7, 2003 at 4:00 p.m. Flowers may be sent to the church Friday. Donations to the “Benton Minor Scholarship” fund may be sent to CSUF Music Department, C/O Benton Minor Scholarship, P.O. Box 6850, Fullerton, CA 92834. Please make checks payable to UAF (University Advancement Foundation).

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