John Reitz BS ’48, BM ’49
John V. Reitz BS ’48, BM ’49 writes: “After serving in the U.S. Army 66th Infantry Division in England, France, Germany, and Austria from November 1942 to February 1946, I returned to Portland and enrolled at Lewis & Clark in the summer of 1946. After earning my BS in 1948, I was offered a graduate-assistant job in the music department and also pursued a bachelor of music in composition. In fall 1949, I enrolled at the University of Washington, earning an MA in music composition in June 1950. I was then contacted by John Stark Evans, the chair of the Lewis & Clark music department, and offered a position on the music faculty. The college had really grown in those post-war years with so many returning veterans, and Evans was overloaded, teaching all of the theory and ear-training classes we well as administering the department. I helped by teaching two first-year theory classes and one second-year theory class. Plus, I coached two small brass ensembles. I taught for one year, during which time my dance band, Dixieland sextet, and mariachi quartet were helping me earn much more than teaching. I decided to pursue playing professionally full time. I made a lot of close friends in my years at L&C. I played in both the orchestra and the band from fall 1946 until spring 1949. I think that I can claim the award (if there is one) for Lewis & Clark’s longest-performing musician. Until the COVID-19 virus struck, I played in the Green Valley Stage Band and led the Dixiecats traditional jazz band in the Tucson, Arizona, area. I lead the Harbor Patrol Jazz band in the Portland/Vancouver area in the summers.” Reitz says he hopes his classmates will reach out to him at email@example.com.
John Reitz BS ’48, BM ’49 writes: “I must say that life is good here in Oro Valley, Arizona. I’m still playing in two large jazz bands, which rehearse weekly and play one or two gigs monthly. I also play in a very busy trad-jazz band (The Dixiecats). My Northwest group, the Harbor Patrol Jazz Band, was booked once again for the Clark County Fair for six days in August 2018. This was our 23rd consecutive year at that fair. We must be doing something right. Playing trumpet in creative jazz groups makes life really interesting and enjoyable, and in this 94th year of my life, my health could not be better, walking about a mile daily and doing the gym five times each week. My former wife died last December at age 93, and my present wife of 34 years, Carroll, is a delight. How could life be better for a nonagenarian? My best to you all.”
John Reitz BS ’48, BM ’49 writes that he would “be delighted to be there [at Alumni Weekend], joking and toasting my classmates graduating from L&C in June 1948 and June 1949. Unfortunately, I am committed to attend the reunion of the Panther Veteran’s Association in Jacksonville, Florida, at that same time. This veteran’s association is formed from those of us who served (and survived) in the 66th Infantry Division in World War II. Our service was chasing the Germans out of France, across Bavaria and into Austria. It’s a very special group in that last year there were only 16 of us WWII veterans left from the 14,000 who served; however, there were 267 next-generation relatives who made it fantastic. We spawned neat kids. I look back with great admiration to my two and one half years on our beautiful campus.”
John Reitz BS ’48, BM ’49, a WWII veteran and one of 15 surviving members of the 66th Infantry Division, attended the group’s annual reunion in Louisville, Kentucky, in summer 2017. Reitz says he’s been attending since the events started in 1969, and he’s only missed one. Reitz worked with radio equipment during the war, and was on deck when the SS Leopoldville, the ship carrying his division to reinforce soldiers at the Battle of the Bulge, was hit by a German torpedo. Reitz was lucky enough to be able to swim to safety, but 800 service members were lost that day. He says “the traditions and the friendships” are what keep him coming back for reunions.
John Reitz BS ’48, BM ’49, who invigorated the Snack Shack that once existed below Albany Quadrangle with jazz music, continues to play trumpet. Reitz, along with his Harbor Patrol Jazz Band, performed at the Clark County Fair in Vancouver, Washington, in August. It was the 20th consecutive year the band had played at the event.