The Music Man of UW-Madison Prepares for Retirement

Local News

A musical icon of UW sports is being honored Tuesday in Appleton at the Red Smith Sports Awards Banquet. And UW Marching Band Director Mike Leckrone talked about his long career with our Kris Schuller – during his visit To Kimberly High School.

Inside Kimberly High School, the longest-serving marching band director in the history of the Big 10, pays a visit with the Kimberly High School Pep Band. 

“Do you enjoy doing that, do you enjoy playing? If yes don’t ever lose that,” said Leckrone.

Mike Leckrone is in the area to be recognized with the 2019 Red Smith Award, given each year to a person whose made a significant contribution to sports in the state.

“For them to feel I’ve made a contribution to society here and the culture here, that’s more gratifying than I can even express,” he said.

But after 50 years as the leader of the UW Marching Band, helping young students be all they can be, he is getting ready to retire. By visiting with old friends like here at Kimberly High School.

“I’ve been an associate of his for a long time, he’s much older than I am,” Leckrone said while hugging the school’s current band director.

And accepting the reality – his life is about to change.

“I feel like I’m in a strange sort of surreal world at this point, because everything is happening.  But still things are going on as they always have been, until I finish the school year,” Leckrone said.

Though 82 years old, Leckrone’s energy is never ending. Mentoring these high schoolers on how to succeed, just as he has with thousands of UW students over his 50-year career in Madison.

“Not just again to play music well, but to enjoy it, appreciate it and to have a good time doing it,” Leckrone said. “I’m going to miss the students primarily. It’s going to be a great loss for me.”

A career filled with what Leckrone calls moments of happiness – cherished memories – for the music man of UW-Madison.

“You got to live in the moments of happiness, because that is what is going to carry you through, no matter what troubles or adversity you’ll have next.”

Leckrone announced his retirement in August.

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