Dr. David Kampschroer 1940-2015

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The Blue Stars mourn the passing of Dr. David Kampschroer, one of the key figures in the history of the organization. One of the founders of the corps, Dr. K. was an early drum instructor until taking the reigns as director in 1969. Little did anyone know the impact he was to have on the Blue Stars and the drum corps activity.

For the Blue Stars, the Kampschroer era was one of unprecedented success as the Blue Stars burst onto the national drum corps scene and became perennial finalists in Drum Corps International competitions. Dr. K. was a leader with a sharp competitive spirit, but cared deeply about the members and the positive life-experiences they learned in the corps.

Dr. K. was one of the charter corps directors of the Midwest Combine in 1971, the predecessor to DCI's founding in 1972. Kampschroer worked actively as one of the founding fathers of the new DCI organization and served as its first executive director. He later chaired the Drum Corps International Hall of Fame committee.

David was an inaugural member of both the Blue Stars Hall of Fame and Drum Corps International Hall of Fame.

Memories of Dr. K, as told by those who knew him:

Billy Happel
What can I say about the man that 1,000 other people won't say? He was my mentor; He was like a dad to me; He would tell you his thoughts whether you liked them or not; All these things and more will be said by everyone that ever knew him. 

Every year during the years he was director, he was given a blank check from one of our sponsors. It had a designated limit, but could be used for anything he thought the corps needed and it was up to him on what he thought best. Not once was that check used for equipment, instructors, fuel, bus repairs, etc. He used that check every year for a comfort or extra for the members and staff, whether it be a stay in a hotel after finding less than adequate housing, a day at an amusement park, a full blown sit down dinner at a real restaurant... the list goes on. He would always tell me, they said it was to be used for something the corps needed, and right now, they need this.

He taught me so much about how to interact with people, "You will always have to deal with people that don't like you or your ideas,...your job is to get them to like you without them knowing it." 

We had our times... like the one hot day of practice in 1972, when running through South Rampart for the 100th time, I decided to lighten things up and did the strut down the 50 as a joke. The kids were howling. David came over and said, that's in the show. I went berserk telling him there was no way I would do that in a performance and after arguing with him for what seemed an hour, he looked at me and said,"Fine, I will find someone else to do it". You know the rest of the story. Again, he was right, and I hated and loved him for it. 

Tom Leith
I remember speaking with Dr. K. prior to the Applefest parade in LaCrescent in the fall of 1968. That was immediately after he assumed the reigns of the corps from Dave Dummer. I remember so much enthusiasm, anticipation, and "gritty drum corps moxey" in his voice. And you could see it in his eyes. That "thing" that you can't describe or adequately explain. That special posture where you knew that something special was going to be occurring in the near future. 

Terry Thirion 
We new him as "The Duke."
A man with a vision to always keep building the program.
To always keep the kids as the sole purpose.
To give any member the opportunity to excel in his corps position, and life.
He taught me how to recover from a loss and bounce back the next day.
He worked hard, we all worked hard, and enjoyed the victories together.

Richard "Doc" Nelson 
Dave first talked to me about joining Blue Stars at Atlanta in 1969. In June,1970, I joined the Blue Stars in Lansing, Michigan, and as they say, the rest is history. Among Dave's many enduring qualities was his card playing abilities. He (and his wife Barb) always played to Win! He will always be remembered by me as a winner. I am truly blessed to call him a friend. 

Rick Young 
I still have a vivid memory of the Corps marching at Geneseo, Il. for the 1st show of 1969. They were really ready and performed well. But, one of the horn judges misinterpreted the intonation area and we got dumped by several points. After our performance I, and others on staff, got hugs and congrats from the likes of the Cavies and other competitors who were sure that we had won that night. When the scores were announced we were devastated. Dr. K brought us all together and gave us a choice. Either pick ourselves up and go on from here or become a tour group and give up drum corps. Needless to say, we decided to stay a corps .

Steve Stueck 
When Dr Kampschroer was with the corps there was always a higher energy level. After one of his motivational speeches that level went through the roof. We wanted to do great things for this man. 

During more recent years I would often get phone calls to get the inside scoop on Winter rehearsals. He was always interested in hearing how his baby was doing. He was quite dismayed that the organization at one time was very nearly wiped out. But through the efforts of many people - many of which had been impacted quite positively by him - the Blue Stars not only survived but are once again thriving as a World Class corps. 

Tom King 
First met Dave when I joined the corps in the fall of 1964. He was one of my drum instructors, working mainly with the tenor drummers. I remember practicing on boards upstairs in the old Autolite building. Years later when I became Corps Director, it was Dave's encouragement that helped us make the commitment to increase the size of the infrastructure to allow for the planned growth. His advice was " make sure you do it right." As I look back on those times, I don't remember him ever telling me what he thought I should do, only encouraged me to do what felt right for long term success. In 1997 we placed second in Division 2. No one was more excited that Dave, which was hard for him as his DCI role required that he be focused on all the corps. 

Brad Furlano 
The entire Blue Stars organization is deeply saddened by the passing of Dr. David Kampschroer. Dr. K's contribution to the Blue Stars and the drum corps activity is widely known, but many may not realize he continued to be a trusted resource to me and the organization through our reemergence as a World Class Corps in the last decade. He was always a phone call away to provide advice, a kind word of support, or even a kick in the pants if necessary. He will be missed by all and our condolences go out to Barb and his entire family.