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A Tribute to
Harry E. McNees


It is with the mixed feelings of both sadness and peace that I post this website in Memory of Harry E. McNees.
He struggled for many weeks, but finally he has been set free and he will never be forgotten.

Harry McNees Auditorium
Harry's Funeral was held
in the Harry E. McNees Auditorium, Kimball High School, Kimball Nebraska.


(Bonnie wishes to express her sincere regret that Jon Peterson was left out of this program as he presented the eulogy)



Click here to visit Harry's: Photo Album

I would like to thank Sherry and Alex Blanche from the Western Nebraska Observer for providing many of the photos and videos on this page.

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A special tribute and solo to Harry was offered by David Hickman

David Hickman
David Hickman

David plays Harry's favorite  David Hickman's Tribute to Harry
Click on each picture to hear one of Harry's favorites and David's Tribute.

David Hickman is considered one of the world's pre-eminent trumpet virtuosos and has performed over 2,000 solo appearances around the world as a recitalist or guest soloist with nearly 500 different orchestras. His tours have taken him to Japan, Korea, Thailand, Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Canada, Mexico, Switzerland, and virtually every major American city.

"David Hickman, playing as soloist with The American Sinfonietta in the Musikverein, played the trumpet concerto by Hummel. Spectacular was his change from staccato to a songful, soft legato with almost unending arches of phrasing and virtuosic agility of his delivery." Weiner Zeitung (Vienna, Austria)

Hickman has released 15 solo albums encompassing a wide variety of repertoire - from comet solos by Clarke, Levy, and others, to modern concerti by Planel, Baker, and Plog; from baroque works of Bach, Telemann, and Hertel, to recital pieces by Chance, Dello Joio, and Mendez; from contemporary works to fun Christmas medleys.

"David Hickman is an astounding musician. His articulation and phrasing are impeccable. More importantly, the wide affective range he coaxes from his instrument is continuously revelatory." Fanfare

As a noted clinician and author, Hickman has presented workshops on over 300 major university campuses. He has taught (13 summers) at the Banff Centre for the Arts (Canada), Bremen Trumpet Days (Germany), Rafael Mendez Brass Institute (18 summers), and dozens of music festivals. He has published over 40 articles and several important trumpet and music texts including The Piccolo Trumpet, The Piccolo Trumpet Big Book, Trumpet Lessons With David Hickman, Vols. 1-5, and Music Speed Reading, a sight reading method used by hundreds of public school systems and universities or conservatories such as the University of North Texas and The Juilliard School.

David Hickman received his B. M. degree at the University of Colorado in 1972. He continued graduate work at Wichita State University where he was a Graduate Trumpet Teaching Assistant for two years (M. M. - 1974). His primary teachers include Harry McNees, Frank Baird, and Walter Myers. He taught at the University of Illinois from 1974 to 1982 and since has been teaching at Arizona State University where he is a Regents' Professor of Music. He has been a member of the Saint Louis Brass Quintet (11 yrs.), Wichita Brass Quintet (2 yrs.), Illinois Brass Quintet (8 yrs.), Baroque Consort, Summit Brass, and the Illinois Contemporary Chamber Players.

As an orchestral musician, Hickman performed as Principal Trumpet of the National Repertory Orchestra (1971 and 1972), Associate Principal of the Wichita Symphony (1972-1974), Principal of the Brevard Music Center Orchestra (1975), Principal, Tanglewood Fellowship Orchestra (1974), and Principal of the Champaign-Urbana Symphony (1974-1980). He has also performed with the Saint Louis Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra. His principal orchestral teachers include Adolph Herseth, Armando Ghitalla, and Roger Voisin.

Hickman is founder and president of the acclaimed Summit Brass, a large all-star American brass ensemble dubbed by the press as the "Dream Team of Brass." Summit Brass has released 10 CDs, toured the world, and hosted the annual Rafael Mendez Brass Institute which has helped thousands of aspiring brass musicians. He served as president of the International Trumpet Guild from 1977 to 1979 and has presented numerous lectures, clinics, masterclasses, and concerts at major international conventions. His services are sought worldwide as a judge for prestigious solo and chamber music competitions. Mr. Hickman recently received the International Trumpet Guild's prestigious Award of Merit.

"The most difficult task facing any trumpeter is not the production of bright, assertive fanfare, but rather the task of coaxing agile, cantabile lines from the most stentorian of instruments. David Hickman proved himself expert in both capacities." New York Times


Jon Peterson offered the eulogy to Harry

 Jon Peterson                       Jon Peterson eulogy
                                                                                                                                 Click on picture to watch and listen to Jon

by Jon Peterson


            1)  distinguished by some unusual quality
            2)  held in particular esteem
            3)  distinguishable from others
            4)  being other than the usual
            5)  designed for a particular purpose or occasion


In the spring of 1962 I came to Kimball Nebraska to interview for a teaching position at Kimball County High School.  I arrived about 11pm Mountain Time because I didn’t realize how far it was to Kimball on 2 lane roads.  Saturday morning, I interviewed with Dr William Ptacek and toured the school. Walking into the BAND room on the second floor, I was introduced to Harry McNees. Strange how one feels while being introduced to MR. BAND, but I really had  a feeling that this was going to be a great relationship. I was given the vocal position and my life changed.  My special  moments with Harry have never stopped………..every time we have been together over the past 45 years…… was like we had never been apart.

I joined the faculty of KCHS that summer and Harry cleared out the little storeroom next to the fire escape so I could have a office. We put in  a desk, a chair and a file cabinet, that was all that would fit,  and pulled the accordion door shut.  I was now a part of the Music Department. Harry and I clicked from the first day…………he became my mentor and helped me with everything. We shared time attending music reading sessions in Boulder,  music convention in eastern Nebraska, music contest in western Nebraska and Teacher conventions. We shared our hopes, ideas, goals, our joys. We spent quality time setting up chairs in the old gym, auditorium and the park. The McNees, Moore's and Atkins became our very close friends.

I knew I was in big time band land………..when the street west of the school had marching stripe painted across it.  When the KCHS Band put on the first big Precision Marching Show in western Nebraska for a half time of the Scottsbluff JC football game.

When grade school students were more interested in marching in “Harry’s Band” then doing sports. When the band went to the Indianapolis 500 and my only job was to be sure that the Marching Band Banner was ready to go in front of the band.
Thanks Harry, you were a great trend setter.

When Harry and I were together he taught me wonderful things that most mentors don’t teach. How to always spill coffee, gravy, ketchup and/or mashed potatoes on your tie. How to fall asleep faster than me so I always had to turn off the TV.
Thanks Harry, for sharing some personal traits, these are important.

Harry taught me about demanding excellence in teaching from yourself and students, to push students to be their very best, to always reach for a superior performance and never settle for anything less. He showed me the joy of great instrumental literature with “Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral”, “Swingin’ Shepherds Blues” and “Trumpeters Lullaby”
Thanks Harry, for sharing great instrumental literature.

I knew I was Harry’s friend and colleague when he told me that I was in charge of the Band for Farmers Day. He was going to pick up his son.  I WAS HONORED BECAUSE NOBODY MESSED WITH HARRY’S BAND.
Thanks Harry, you showed me trust, faith and confidence

We moved into this building after our 2nd year together. What  a wonderful auditorium. This was something very special for Kimball..  I asked Harry if he thought we could do a musical and he said “Now we can do festivals, clinics, special concerts and musicals”.  We had a great venue for our concerts,  People came to concerts just to see the auditorium.  Great things have happened in this auditorium.
Thanks Harry, for seeing into the future and planning this great room

“How can I not forget watching Harry double-time conducting with “playboy center-folds taped into his scores” or an alarm clock ringing under the directors podium with Harry looking at the percussion section for the culprit……….funny things.  Someone had put pictures in my scores also. I wonder who that was?  The best joke ever played on me was during the Library Scene of “Music Man”, We started the vamp for the opening song and I was ready to give Henry Jennings the cue for “Marian,” Out of the corner of my eye I saw someone walking on stage left………. Harry McNees began walking across the stage wearing shorts, t-shirt, helicopter beanie and reading BALZAC.  I was stunned, Henry just looked at me and smiled……..Mary Kay Moore’s eye got as big as quarters and we just watched in disbelief. The applause was so loud and long, we had to hold up the show …..and then he walked back across the other way.  We had so many comments about the special performance of Harry McNees that we had to do it again the next night.
Thanks Harry, you taught me to always be prepared for the unexpected and to have fun. 

I was honored to be in the audience when Harry E McNees received the “Don Lentz Award”  from the Nebraska State Band Masters Association, when Harry E McNees  was inducted into the Nebraska Music Educators “Hall of Fame” and I was here when this auditorium was named  “the Harry E McNees Auditorium”.


You see Harry McNees was SPECIAL to all of us. Now you can put in your own word
       1)     distinguished by some unusual quality       excellent musician
       2)     held in high esteem                                       great “Hall of Fame” educator
3)     distinguished from others                             coffee on his tie
       4)     being other then the usual                            great lover of classical literature Balzac
5)     designed for a  purpose                               to share his love of music to all of us

 Quoting from “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran
And he said:

You would know the secret of death
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.



Jon is currently a Visiting Instructor of Music at Nebraska Wesleyan University.  He is serving as Recruiting Coordinator for the Music Department and doing some teaching in Beginning Choral Conducting and Secondary Vocal Music Education.

He taught at Kenesaw, Kimball County High School (from 1962-67. Where they did 3 Musicals, "Annie Get you Gun", "My Fair Lady" and "The Music Man"), and Lincoln East.  The first Swing/Show Choir was put together and performed while in Kimball in 1965. Since that time, Show Choirs are now found all over the country. Jon servers as a national clinician and judge for Show Choir festivals over the US.

Mr. Peterson (Pete) retired from serving as the Music Department Chair and Director of Choral Activities at Lincoln East High School after 32 years.  He has served as President of the Nebraska Choral Directors Association and the Nebraska Music Educators Association. 

Mr. Peterson was selected for:
             1986 Gallup Inc. Outstanding Teaching Award 
             1991  Nebraska Choral Director of the Year
             1993 Aliant Communications Teacher of the Year
             1996 Nebraska Music Educators Hall of Fame
             1999 State Thank You Teacher Award



Jim Moore and Mary Kay (Moore) Jenner
Mary Kay (Moore) Jenner and Jim Moore
(click on picture to see and listen)




Guest Book for

Harry E. McNees



May 18, 2007

Some people spend their entire life figuring out how to leave a legacy behind. Harry didn't even have to try. Harry had an auditorium named after him while he was still alive and well. That really shows the caliber of this man. Harry is the biggest influence as a mentor/teacher in my life. The countless hours Harry would spend teaching me everything he knew was priceless. If I only knew then what I know now, I would have taken better notes!! There was definitely something spiritual about Harry in everything he did and in everyone he touched. Harry was definitely a rich and successful man. We will miss you Harry. You and Bonnie are forever in our prayers. Dulce!


Steve Allwin (Tucson, AZ)


May 14, 2007

Harry was my "Little Brother." All his life I referredto him as this. To tell the truth, Harry was a bigger man than either of his bigger brothers. We may have made more money in our working years but Harry was head and shoulders above us. He help mold hudreds of young lives. He had talent, humility and faith in God. The Heavenly Angels better look sharp because they now have a new music director. We miss you,Pete.


Art McNees (Vero Beach, FL)


May 12, 2007

Being the youngest of the 5 Settles kids I had some fantastic mentors in my older siblings. Harry was an awesone addition to my group of mentors in that he never showed anger, he saw the best in everyone, and he brought about a calmness in the worst of situations. I thank God for the 55 years that he was one of my older brothers.


J.D. Settles (BLUE EYE, MO)


May 11, 2007

was a great and wonderful person helped a lot of kids


lorraine shelley (scottsbluff, NE)


May 11, 2007

Bonnie and family, We are so sorry to hear of your lose. Harry was a wonderful person and did great in this life and he will do great in heaven.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you.


Saron and Mary Andrews (Kimball, NE)


May 11, 2007

As we pass through this world we have an opportunity to meet and know alot of people. Some we remember and many we forget. I will always remember Harry because he was a Special Teacher and a Friend to ALL. Hopefully you will find comfort in Knowing that Harry had so many friends.


Clarence Cunningham (Grand Island)


May 10, 2007

Uncle Harry was my Dad's brother. My Dad preceded Harry in death by seven years. One day I was talking to Dad about "Uncle Harry". We were talking about Dad (Doug), Art and Harry and the relative success they enjoyed in their respective careers. He told me that Harry was the richest of the three McNees brothers. When I questioned this he said, Uncle Harry is beloved in the town of Kimbal. He has more friends and has influenced more people than Art or I put together times ten. He's had a wonderful life and he has a wonderful wife. Based on the memories expressed here, I would say, Dad, as usual, you're right again. We'll miss you Uncle Harry. Tell my Dad we miss him too. You guys have fun up there.


Ken and Lyuda McNees (Raleigh, NC)


May 10, 2007

Dear Aunt Bonnie,
I was so sorry to learn that you have lost your life-long love and companion, my Uncle Harry. He and my father Doug are together now, no doubt wreaking havoc in the heavens with their unlimited humor and pranks. I can't think of any better fellows to be our angels than those two. Uncle Harry was a devoted Christian and teacher of many things. I will miss him but he remains in my heart. For this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. I am truly blessed to have known such a wonderful, loving man -- my uncle.
Warmest love,
Suzanne Tudor


Suzanne Tudor (Venice, FL)


May 8, 2007

Bonnie and Family, My thoughts and prayers are with you all. Harry had a tremendous influence on so many of us - helping build confidence when we lacked it, giving encouragement when we needed it, and always praising when we deserved it. Blessings.


Anna (Hendricks) Perry (Houston, TX)


May 7, 2007

What an awesome life you had, Harry. Witness the positive influence you had on so many. Those of us fortunate enough to have known you are members of an elite club. Thank you for all the wonderful things you did; for all your hard work over so many years on our behalf and just for being a great guy.


Bill Smythe (Omaha, NE)


May 7, 2007

I promise never to forget the BANNER on any future band trips. I promise never to eat in my band uniform. I promise to study hard on Sunday nights for those tests on Mondays. I promise to march in pouring down rain the next time I'm at the Indianapolis 500. I promise to practice and practice and to be the best at what I do. I promise to always remember and love Harry!


Shortie Kiefer (Hensley) (Kimball, NE)


May 5, 2007

Bonnie and family , My family would like to express our sorrow for you. Harry was a remarkable person, always telling his students to keep their heads up and believe. We are turely sorry.


Dena (Hinrichs) Hill (Tecumseh, MI)


May 5, 2007

Bonnie, In this hour of loss and sorrow, there is little we can say, but may the deep concern of others help to comfort you in the loss of your dear husband.


Shirley Heimbuck/Goehring (Lodi,, CA)


May 5, 2007

Bonnie and family, I always considered Harry as one of my best friends in school. Harry took me aside one day to ask me to hold my head up and say "hi" to all. That day changed my life as did Harry. I will now hold my head a little higher and say "Hi" to Harry in heaven. Thank you Harry. Bonnie and kids, you will remain in my prayers.


Christy (Hoke) Anderson (Scottsbluff, NE)


May 4, 2007


Harry not only touched the lives of all his students in a most postitve way, but he also touched most everyone in Kimball directly or indirectly. He is a part of Kimball history.

Dale Hoke


Dale Hoke (Parker, CO)


May 4, 2007

Harry gave off an inner light that will forever shine on in me. I hold your family in "The Light."


Michael Hanway (Seattle, WA)


May 4, 2007

Bonnie-we love you and KNOW where
harry is now PRSAISE THE LORD
God be with you at this special time


M&M Gompert (Sebring, FL)


May 3, 2007

Bonnie & family,
I want you to know that you're in our thoughts and prayers during this time. Harry was an awesome teacher! He always had a smile on his face his personality was contagious. God Bless you all!


Don Burns Jr (Scottsbluff, NE)


May 3, 2007

Harry's gentle influence extended around the world through the many exchange students he taught in Kimball. He and Bonnie have many friends in far places.


Ewan Vickery (Adelaide, South Australia.)


May 3, 2007

Bonnie and Family,
We are so sorry to read about the loss of Harry. We know he was surrounded by love and caring until the end. We hope you are feeling the comforting arms of all the thoughts and prayers from all of your friends near and far. We were truly blessed to have visited with him after Avona's celebration of life and to appreciate his wonderful smile and sense of humor one last time.
Take care and know we loved him and pray for all of YOU!!!
Jim and Cathy Ochsner


Cathy Ochsner (Ogallala, NE)


May 3, 2007

Dear Bonnie: I recall the good times we had in your home playing cards and visiting. The time in New Hampshire and the trip to Mystic Connecticut. You and Harry were always fun and delightful to be with. Harry never complained about his physical problems and he did have a few pains here and there. His legacy will play on here on earth and the Heavenly Choir will have the best director ever. Love and Prayers for you and the family.


Philil and Fran Fidel (Sun City, AZ)


May 3, 2007

I have so many wonderful memories of Harry McNees. He was an excellent teacher, mentor and friend. 20+ years later, I can still remember his very genuine smile, but also his serious and stern look that said "I believe in you and I know you can do better". I learned some great positive life-lessons from him. Harry McNees, you will be greatly missed! God Bless Bonnie and all of Harry's loved ones!


Craig Morgan (Lakewood, CO)


May 3, 2007

Bonnie & Family,
You are in our thoughts and prayers at this diffcult time. God bless you!


Jennifer (Allen) Johnston (Scottsbluff, NE)


May 3, 2007

I once had trouble answering the question "Who are my heros." The problem was that I had grown-up surrounded by extrodinary people, Harry and Bonnie topped the list. We'll miss you Harry and pray for your family.


Jon Kemling (Lincoln, NE)


May 3, 2007

Our thoughts and prayers are with you. We will see you soon.


Chuck and Claire Allen (Centennial, CO)


May 3, 2007

I am sorry I cannot attend Harry's funeral, it is the day of our Mass Band Concert of which he attended several. I always valued his comments and complements after my band's performances.

Harry's support and encouragement when I was in Scottsbluff helped me maintain my confidence as a teacher and conductor and I always enjoyed just discussing bands and music with him.

We will miss him greatly. He was a fine teacher, conductor, and most importantly, a fine person.


Randy Raines (Gering, NE)


May 3, 2007

Bonnie and Family,

I am so blessed to have known Harry and played under him for many years. He is an angel of God that we were fortunate to know and love. God Bless You and yours!


Trisha Goins (Skiatook, OK)


May 3, 2007

Aunt Bonnie,
We are all thinking of you. We all miss you terribly and wish we could be there for you.
All our love,
Chris, Traci, Abbi, Nick and Rylan


Traci Pleiss (Lincoln, NE)


May 2, 2007

I am so sorry for your loss. He was such a wonderful man, so kind and considerate of others. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this time of loss.


Brenda Brown (Lincoln, NE)


May 2, 2007

Our three kids, Deron, Richa, and Kevin, are all successful music educators. When we are asked why they are so good and successful in music, we always respond with "All three of our children started their instrumental music careers under the teaching of Harry McNees. That is the reason they have a good understanding, appreciation, and are successful in music." Thanks, Harry, for being such a terrific person!


Dick and Barb McGee (Mesa, AZ)


May 2, 2007

I will always remember the times we
judged music contests and went to
band masters and All-State conventions. You were a good friend and inspiration to all of us
younger band directors. God Bless!


John Forsythe (Scottsbluff)


May 2, 2007

Our thoughts and prayers are with you!


Rachael Evans (Wheatland, WY)


May 2, 2007

So many memories. Thanks for all the special trips to CSU and Air Force football games. How about the permanent "K" in the middle of the football field, and who could forget the early morning street marching practice for the Calgary Stampede trip in the summer of 80'.

You made us the awesome band that we were and you touched my life. You will be sorely missed.

God Bless you and your family.


Dave Smythe (La Mesa, CA)


May 2, 2007





© Copyright 1999-2007
All Rights Reserved



Please relay my deepest sympathies and condolences to Bonnie and the extended “McNees” family. Have a great day celebrating such a great man and a life that has touched the far corners of the world.

Steve Mackenzie
AFS student 1985
Percussionist 1985
Band Goat 1985



We are saddened to hear of Harry's passing.  If it would't be too much trouble, could you e-mail or fax me a copy of the complete obituary.  I would like to share it with some of his friends in Scottsbluff.
Thank you.
Dwight Barbour
Barbour Music
fax 308-632-0467


I'm Stephanie Perry, (daughter of John Perry graduate from 1965) a graduate of Kimball High School from 1989 and  played clarinet for Harry until he retired in 1987 and then under Cynthe Steahr.  Am not sure if anything is being planned for Harry's funeral from "Harry's" bands or not, but would like to stay informed about any alumni band happenings now and in the future.

Stephanie Perry
13528 Frederick St
Omaha, NE  68144
Stephanie Perry
Golden Harvest


I know we all loved and respected Harry and Bonnie.  They are such a positive example for all of example that I, personally, carried humbly as my standard for "enthusiasm, righteousness, and goodness"!

We are all so blessed by their giving spirit and love of life.

We are, now and forever, blessed by their spirituality.



I heard already from my parents that my friend and teacher Harry had passed.  He was a great influence on myself and upon many, many others. He was my favorite person in the whole town of Kimball! 

Harry will be as fantastic a band instructor and leader in Heaven as he was for us 'down here'.
My regards and prayers to Bonnie.
Peace, Jeff Johnson >>>> Cornet / '75


What a great man.  He was the main reason that I went back to the last All Class Reunion a few years ago, just to thank him for helping me become who I am today.

Gordon Hansen
Software Solutions Developer
Business Automation Services
Corporate Administrative Services
State Farm Insurance Companies
Office: 309-735-8695

My heart is saddened as well but at the same time joyous that Harry's earthly pain has now ended. Always a mixed blessing when someone so special passes into the heavenly kingdom. It will be hard coming back to Kimball so soon after my mom's own burial but want to share my love and concern with Bonnie and her family. And always good to come "home".

Patty Niemann
Vocal/ General Music Specialist
Sheridan Elementary



Bonnie has established two memorials

Harry McNees Memorial
New Tribes Mission
1000 East 1st Street
Sanford, FL  32771-1487

Harry McNees Memorial
Music Program
United Methodist Church
Kimball, NE  69145



It is suggested that you make your checks to:

Harry McNees Memorial
C/0 Bonnie McNees
524 Madison
Kimball, NE  69145

This will give Bonnie the freedom to decide which memorial to send the funds.
If the memorial is sent directly to the fund, Bonnie may not know about your gift.

Bonnie also said that she welcomes any contact with everyone.

Bonnie McNees
524 Madison
Kimball, NE  69145
E-mail Bonnie





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