Transformational Gifts

George Quinlan, Sr.

The world of music has truly suffered a great loss with the passing of George Quinlan, Sr. In the music education field, he created music programs were there were none and gave countless students the opportunity to experience music. When they were grounded in the appreciation of the beauty of music, he went one step further and provided them instruments of the highest quality. This led him to co-found what is today one of the leading school music companies in the nation: Quinlan and Fabish Music Company.  Mr. Quinlan juggled the role of father, band director, businessman, and performer, and did it all with greatest amount of grace and the highest level of integrity.  Never forgetting the role of music education in his life Mr. Quinlan continually found ways to support band and orchestra directors and their students.  He provided workshops for both the director and student and supported outreach programs in the field.  
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, students, faculty, staff, administration, and alumni of the college, Dr. Charles T. Menghini, president issued these comments:  "George Quinlan, Sr. was a personal hero to so many of us.  He was a true friend to everyone he met.  Always with that 'Kris Kringle' smile, he lit up every room he entered.  His love of family and of the profession he did so much for is an inspiration to every one of us who aspire to be a musician, teacher, leader, businessman, or human being.  There is no doubt that his legacy is one that will live in the hearts and minds of everyone who was fortunate enough to have had the pleaure of his company."
The Quinlan family has been a part of the VanderCook family for many years.  In 1999, VanderCook awarded George Quinlan, Sr. a doctor of music honorus causa degree.   In December 2012, he conducted the VanderCook Symphonic Band at the Midwest Clinic, while his grandson George (Andrew) Quinlan III played field drum.  In 1996, son George, Jr. joined the VanderCook Board of Trustees and led the board as Chairman from 2005 – 2010. Throughout the years the Quinlan family has supported the efforts of VanderCook's outreach programs by sponsoring the All- Catholic Honor Band Festival.  Through the family business, they have provided an array of instruments and musical items to support the fundraising efforts of the college and have established a scholarship in memory of George Quinlan Sr.'s late wife; The Lorraine Quinlan Scholarship.  Most recently, the family created the George Quinlan, Sr. Legacy Fund as part of the Inspire. Build. Sustain. Capital Campaign. This initiative will transform a 24,400-sq-ft. building on campus into a state-of-the-art performance and education center, and secure the future of music education everywhere.  Donations will be directed towards what will become the George Quinlan, Sr. Recital Lobby and Recital Hall. 

Dr. Lewis and Mrs. Gerry Schmidt

Dr. and Mrs. Schmidt believed in VanderCook's mission and the importance of giving back.  That is one of the main reasons why they generously made a major gift contribution to the Inspire. Build. Sustain. Capital Campaign.  You can find their names on the Alumni Donor Wall and on numerous other plaques throughout the new building.    
Dr. and Mrs. Schmidt also wanted to give students an opportunity to pursue their dreams of becoming career music educators so they started the Lewis and Gerry Schmidt Instrumental Music Education Scholarship.  This $500 annual award is given to a student that is aspiring to be a band director.  Since Dr. and Mrs. Schmidt were from Wisconsin, preference for this scholarship is given to students from that state.  
Recently, Dr. and Mrs. Schmidt donated an antique pedal organ to VanderCook that was used as a silent auction prize.  
Dr. and Mrs. Schmidt's legacy will live on thanks to their generosity and support.  Their leadership had an immeasurable impact on music education globally.

Mr. Salvatore A. Grasso - Pride Through Excellence 

Mr. Grasso was a high school band director in the Chicago Public Schools for 40 years.  He began his career teaching at Wells High School.  About four years later, he started a band program at the newly opened Washington High School in Hegwish.  Mr. Grasso retired from Washington High School. 
Mr. Grasso was not only a talented music educator, he was also a wise business man.  While teaching at Washington High School, he recognized an opportunity and acted on it.  Mr. Grasso noticed that the local feeder grammar school did not have a music program.  Volunteering his time, without pay, he started a music program at that local elementary school.  This success then transferred to his high school band program.  Washington High School’s Band won several city competitions and were nationally recongnized for excellence. 
It was not uncommon for Mr. Grasso and his students to perform in Florida at Disney World, in California at Disney Land, at OpreaLand, major bowl games, Chicago Bear Games, and many other venues around the country.  Throughout his travels, this is where the motto of Washington High School originated from…”Pride Through Excellence”.  A motto that he drilled into every student and would not accept anything less than their personal best.  At the end of the day, thousands of students benefited from Mr. Grasso’s vision, commitment, dedication, and leadership.
Mr. Grasso graduated from DePaul University, but always had a special place for VanderCook College of Music.  He believed in VanderCook’s mission of preparing students through music education.  He played many instruments, but his principle instrument was the trombone.  He was a well-respected member of the Musicians Union performing in the Lyric Opera, countless show orchestras and big bands.  
Mr. Grasso was an extraordinary man.  He was a husband, father of four, grandfather of ten, and mentor to thousands of students.  He was so inspirational to his students, that many of them have since graduated from VanderCook College of Music and have touched thousands of students that they encounter on a daily basis teaching music education and Pride Through Excellence.  What an amazing ripple effect. 
In phase one of our capital campaign, Mr. Grasso's family and former students have identified honoring the legacy of Mr. Grasso by naming a classroom in his name.  Mr. Grasso’s sanctuary was his classroom.
Mr. Salvatore Grasso’s love of music made a difference in the lives of literally thousands, and his legacy will continue to live on.

VanderCook College of Music - (312) 225-6288