Virgil Rosenberger


My mother had recently passed away and she had seen to it that I received her piano.  This piano was a gift from my father to her for her 34th birthday upon our return from living in France in 1955.  Barely a year later, I would find myself sitting in front of this keyboard with a man who would move in and out of my thoughts over the coming 50 years.

Newly retired from the postal service in 2005, I was beginning a new career.  I decided that I should resume my musical teaching.  I had my mother's piano moved to my new home and I found myself sitting at its bench and drifting back to become that 10 year old boy who had begun taking music lessons those many years before.  As I sat and reminisced, I found it interesting how I had exchanged my position of student for that of teacher.  Who would have ever thought?

My mental visions were like retrieving old home movies that had been stored in the basement.  You never pulled them out but always knew that they were somewhere down "there" waiting to be viewed someday when you remembered to special order that discontinued bulb for the projector that had somehow become obsolete.  Projecting those images onto the mind's "silver screen", I saw my parents greeting a man that was not big in physical stature but who commanded every bit of attention that one could muster.  In his hand, he carried a small brown case.  The case was placed on the bench of the piano and with two metallic clicks a most beautiful and shiny instrument was revealed.  It was my Olds Ambassador trumpet.

The movie continued to play and revealed my sitting at this same piano.  Next to me and teaching me how to extract a sound from my instrument was that same man who had visited our home on that Saturday in September of 1956.  It showed scenes of sitting in that dusty smelling band room that I believe was in the lower section of the old Westminster grade school located at Lowell and 72nd Avenue.  Again, this man was there molding us into a team that he could present, in concert, to our proud parents.  Future years would bring other directors but none that would stand the test of time in my memory.

Time pressed on: high school band, a contract with Columbia records, Vietnam, 5th Army special services tours, BA Music Education, teaching school, postal career and finally retirement.

I had been recruited to teach school again at Creighton Middle School.  A gentleman by the name of Ron Owens showed up one day and we became friends.  Ron had volunteered to assist me in teaching the grade school children in his specialty: clarinet.  I count myself as fortunate to have received his assistance.  I surely would have lost a few promising clarinetists had he not offered his help!

During a conversation between Ron and me, something was mentioned about Adams County.  Adams County, School District 50, was where I began my musical interest and ultimately my career in music. 

I asked, "Did you ever know a man named Rosenberger?"

Ron replied, "Do you mean Virgil Rosenberger?"

I said, "I'm not sure.  I can't imagine that there would be two people with that same last name in the same district.  I only know that Owen Harris and I lived in fear of him.  He wasn't the kind to take any "guff" from the likes of us!"

"That's him," Ron said, "and he's living in Boulder!"

I thought that I would fall over from a heart attack.  There could be no way that this man could still be with us after the passing of 50 years.  As I remembered him, he was not a man at the beginning of his career when he started our 4th grade group in music.  Ron gave me his phone number and I called him and made an appointment to visit with him and his new bride (He married again at the age of 95!).  He said: "I'll be happy to receive you." I could hardly wait!

My wife and I drove to Boulder on a Sunday in December 2005 and spent about an hour of wonderful time speaking with him and his wife ( She had been a concert Violinist).  I brought along my Olds Ambassador trumpet and played a little piece for him. He was very clear of mind and we carried on a stimulating conversation.  I can only say that I am very blessed to have had the opportunity to visit with the man who started me off and had visited with me in spirit over those many years.  Driving home I said to my wife, Monique: "I hope that I might be like him!"

"Mr." Rosenberger left us a few months later. Still, I think of him often. I was priviledged to be invited to attend his memorial. One of his family prepared a video that will take you through snapshots of his life. Click on Virgil's video to view a great tribute to a wonderful man.

Dan Johnson

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