Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

March 22, 2014

Longtime Kokomo Park Band director Steve Rhodes dies at 60

Area maestro remembered for his talent, humor.

By Lindsey Ziliak Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — A longtime Kokomo Park Band director died in Indianapolis this week at age 60.

According to Kokomo Park Band’s Facebook page, Maestro Steve Rhodes struggled with heart problems and had been in hospice care.

He had directed the park band for 24 years.

Rhodes was a professional trombonist and euphonium player, conductor, music arranger and close friend and mentor to hundreds of musicians in Indiana.

“He was a remarkable man,” friend Dave Broman said, choking back tears. “It’s a little hard to talk about to tell you the truth.”

Broman served as emcee for the park band in the 1990s. It was there he got to know Rhodes.

Rhodes would write the emcee’s scripts. There’d always be something funny in them.

“He was a funny guy,” Broman said. “We had a lot of fun jabbing back and forth backstage. I will miss that”

During shows, Broman was always tasked with asking audience members where they were from. It always amazed him how far people traveled to see Rhodes’ show.

One man wrote on the Kokomo Park Band’s Facebook page that he’d miss Rhodes. He traveled back to Kokomo from Alaska every summer to see a park band concert.

“He’s been a huge part of why it’s been so successful,” Broman said. “The guy was talented.”

His talent extended beyond his role as band director and even beyond music.

Rhodes studied history and music at Indiana University. While there, he served as an announcer for IU’s radio station, WFIU, and helped develop the format for a classical music quiz show called “Ether Game,” according to a memorial compiled by Keith Whitford of the Kokomo Park Band.

He later moved to New York City and worked as a copy editor for a publishing company that produced magazines like the New Yorker.

Rhodes even participated in the New York Recorder Ensemble while there.

Then he moved back to Indiana and worked as a paralegal in his father’s law office.

When that wasn’t enough, he started taking classes at Ball State University to earn a degree in music performance, the memorial states.

Later he performed in the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the Kokomo Symphony Orchestra and with touring orchestras alongside entertainers like Henry Cuesta, Frankie Lain and Kaye Starr.

Rhodes also was widely respected as a musical arranger. His arrangements have been played by symphony orchestras in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Elkhart, Richmond, Muncie, Lafayette and Kokomo. His arrangements for marching and concert bands have even been used by the U.S. Army Band and by the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regimental Band in England, the memorial states.

Broman said he’s touched a lot people.

That includes the chief music producer for Disney Productions, Rick Mizell.

Mizell stopped by the Kokomo Park Band’s Facebook page to write, “So so sorry to hear this. His attitude was to be admired. His musical talents to be envied. His humor to be endured. There isn’t another Rhodes out there. God speed. Thanks for the friendship over these many years.”

Lindsey Ziliak, Tribune Life & Style editor, can be reached at 765-454-8585, at lindsey.ziliak@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @LindseyZiliak.