Brookings Registry | John F. Colson


John F. Colson, 88, of Brookings, SD, died Thursday, February 10, 2022.
A private family funeral will be held. Public visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. Friday, February 18 at Rude Funeral Home, Brookings, SD. Rude’s Funeral Home is helping the family with the arrangements. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made in John’s name to the music department at South Dakota State University.
Born to Louis Mark Colson and Frances (Hogan) Colson in Marengo, IA, on June 21, 1933, he married Nancy Colson on August 27, 1955, in Marengo, IA. They lived primarily in the Midwest, including Lake Park, IA, Garner, IA, Iowa City, IA, Alamosa, CO, and Bettendorf, IA, before settling in Brookings, SD in 1965.
Professor Emeritus of Music at South Dakota State University, John was conductor and music director of the South Dakota State University-Civic Symphony Orchestra for 34 years and taught conducting, trumpet and French horn for 37 years, influencing generations of music teachers and performers.
For 34 years, John judged the South Dakota All-State Orchestra’s wind and string auditions and founded, conducted, and taught at All-State Music Camp in Brookings and Rushmore Junior High Music Camp near Rapid City.
A treble brass teacher for over 50 years, John is the author of two books on brass: Braces & Brass and Rhythm & Pulse: Reading Music for the Trumpet and French Horn Player. In addition to being program coordinator for the Brookings Chamber Music Society, attracting hundreds of guest artists from around the world, John founded and directed the Festival of Contemporary American Music at South Dakota State University. He has also served on the board and artistic committee of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra.
He received the prestigious Outstanding Music Educator Award in South Dakota from the National Federation Interscholastic Music Association for the year 2001. John received the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Service in Arts Education in 2018.
Likewise, he was inducted into the South Dakota Bandmasters Association Hall of Fame in 2020. John continued to be active as a teacher, mentor, and author during his retirement. His three most recent publications include: It’s Really All about Collaboration and Creativity, Conducting and Rehearsing the Instrumental Music Ensemble: Scenarios, Priorities, Strategies, and Repertoire and Rehearsing: Critical Connections for the Instrumental Music Conductor. He was most proud of his work and the work of his colleagues in building the music program at SDSU, especially with the culmination of the Larson Performing Arts Center. He kept in touch with several of his former students, and they often visited him when they were in town, which brought him great joy.
He earned the nickname Speedy in the Marengo neighborhoods when he was much younger, and as a young man he enjoyed waterskiing on the Iowa River. At Brookings, he was once an avid tennis player and an enthusiastic basketball player.
His four children are grateful to have shared his life, David (Liz) Colson, of Kalamazoo, MI, Peter (Nancy Kristofferson) Colson, of Brookings, SD, Scott (Sarah Merrill) Colson, of Alexandria, VA, and Elizabeth (Eric) Utterson, of St. Louis, MO; eight grandchildren, Grace (great-grandchild Jack) and Max (great-grandchild Carl), Mika, Maggie and Louis, Henry, Rose and George and his sister-in-law, Sue (Michael) Grace, of Colorado Springs, CO. He is predeceased by his wife Nancy and his sister Janet. He is survived by his sister Marylou (Jack) Tripolino of Waverly, IA and several nieces and nephews.
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