Lynn H. Wilke, 87, formerly of School Street, Peru, died Monday, March 5, 2018, at the Essex Center in Elizabethtown.
He was born in Brooklyn, June 6, 1930, the son of John and Mildred (Allison) Wilke.
He graduated from East Rockaway High School on Long Island, NY in 1948 and received his BS degree in music and music education from the State University of New York at Fredonia, NY in 1952. He received his MA degree from Columbia University in NYC in 1957. He had additional education at SUNY at Plattsburgh, NY and at the USAF Air University in the CAP officer candidate program.
He was employed as a public school music teacher in the Peru Central School system for 33 years from 1952 until his retirement in 1985 and as organist at St. Augustine's Church since 1953 in Peru, NY. In 2008, he was named Organist Emeritus based on his commitment to his organist work in this church. He was a 4th Degree member of the Knights of Columbus.
As Band Director, he led the Peru Central School "Indian Marching Band" in the opening day parade of the 1964 New York World's Fair in New York City and later at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Games. He also served as Technical Director of all the High School Bands in the nation appearing at the Games. The Peru school band also marched and played at the Olympics as part of the awards ceremony in a tempter of minus 5 degrees below zero.
As Choral Director of the Peru High School music department he produced, with his late wife Joanne, most of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas and many of the Broadway Shows and conducted an Opera Workshop chorus.
He was commander of the Adirondack Mountain Group of the Civil Air Patrol/USAF in the grade of Lt. Col., with headquarters on the Plattsburgh Air Force Base, in the 60s and early 70s. He received the National CAP Meritorious Service Award in 1969 for his help in saving the life of Dr. F. Peter Simons in the High Peaks of the Adirondack Mountains in 1969. Later, after Dr. Simmons recovered, he had the pioneering role in the building and launching of the Hubble Space Telescope.
He was a member of the Plattsburgh College Community Orchestra, as cellist for many years and appeared in as Organ soloist with that orchestra under Dr. Angelo LaMariana.
He did the first in-depth study of the US Calavry bugle signals, used by Ltc. George Armstrong Custer, at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876 and presented this study at the 2000 National Convention of the Little Big Horn Associates at West Point. In 1986, he was the principal bugler for the reburial of the skeletal remains of 36 troopers on the 110th Anniversary of the Battle in Montana.
With the help of his wife, Ann who found an old copy of "General Custer's Funeral March" he played it on the Old Cadet Chapel Organ at West Point for the first time since it was heard at Custer's since his reburial at the USMA in 1877.
On the 129th Anniversary of the Battle of Little Big Horn in 2005, he was selected to reenact Custer's Chief Bugler on the Little Big Horn River Custer's Last Stand. These reenactments were presented, by the Indians, on the exact spot where the battle was faught in 1876.
He was a Hunter Safety Instructor for the NYS DEC Volunteer program, a certified NRA rifle instructor and was a competitive black powder rifle shooter. He reorganized the 1814 Peru Militia Company of reenactors for the annual Battle of Plattsburgh events.
He has been an amateur radio operator (WA2DAC) since 1958, participating in the US Army MARS program, the National Weather SKYWARN program and with the New York State Disaster Preparedness RACES program.
Lynn has been a member of the Alaska 49'ers Cowboy Shooting Club, competing in their "Shootout Under The Midnight Sun", north of Anchorage, AK.
He was married on August 21,1954 to Joanne C. Coffey, music teacher and pianist at Peru Central School, who preceded him in death on September 7, 1997. He remarried Ann Sears (Robbins) on October 12, 1998.
As organist of St. Augustine's Church he designed the pipe organ there, tuned and maintained the organ for 25 years and added the exposed Joanne C. Wilke English Diapasion pipes in 1998. After his heart surgery he paid for the mechanical action of the pipe organ rebuilt into a modern solid state switching of the pipes in 2008.
Lynn was preceded in death by his first wife, Joanne Coffey Wilke on September 7, 1997. Survivors include his wife, Ann; his daughter and son-in-law, Carol Lynn Heinick and Dr. David Heinick; his son and daughter-in-law, Kirk Wilke and Dr. Susan Hayes-Wilke; three grandchildren, Christina Lee Wilke, Susan Park Heinick and Thomas Kirk Wilke; his brothers, Douglas Wilke and Dr. Kenneth Roemer; his four step-children from Ann's late husband, Dr. Travers Robbins: Lynn Robbins Manning, Diane Robbins Neyenhouse, Suzanne Robbins Frechette, and David Gerson Robbins.
Calling hours will be held Friday, March 9, 2018 from 11 to 1 PM at the Hamilton Funeral Home, 294 Mannix Road, Peru. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Saturday, March 10, 2018 at 11 AM at St. Augustine's Church in Peru with Rev. Alan D. Shnob, parish priest, celebrating. Committal prayers and burial will follow in the parish cemetery.
Donations in memory of Lynn Wilke may be made to the St. Augustine's Pipe Organ Maintenance Fund.
Arrangements are in the care of the Hamilton Funeral Home, 294 Mannix Road, Peru, 643-9055.