Friends, family members and former students of Keith Altemeier will attend a service celebrating his life at 10:30 this morning at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.
He died Saturday at the Fort Dodge Villa Care Center at the age of 81.
Among his many accomplishments - including past presidencies of the Iowa Band Masters Association and American School Band Association, and his decades-long involvement with the Karl L. King Municipal Band - Altemeier taught music at Fort Dodge Senior High for 28 years, until retiring in 1990. In an interview with The Messenger, Altemeier estimated that he had instructed some 1,400 music students during his tenure.
Many of those students have weighed in, especially on social media sites, since his death.
Mark Mittelstadt, FDSH Class of 1971, was a member of the marching band, concert band, pep band and musical pit orchestra under Altemeier for three years. Mittelstadt reminisced about Altemeier, calling him a "passionate musician and director."
"You did not want to incur the wrath or evil stare of Mr. A, as we often called him," Mittelstadt said. "But he was also a good friend and compassionate and wise counselor to lost souls (who many of us 'band kids' were at that time in our lives). He made high school bearable - and even fun at times - for many of us."
No doubt, one of the reasons Altemeier was valued by his students was his unwavering belief in them.
He once told The Messenger, "There are differences in talent. But almost without exception, anyone who has the interest and desire can become an accomplished musician. It takes commitment, it takes time. We don't drop anyone out of the (FDSH band) program on the basis of how they play or do not play. Everyone has a place."
For many of those students, that place today will be Good Shepherd Lutheran Church as they their goodbyes to Mr. A.