Obituary of Bill Hardesty
Peoria - Bill Hardesty, 83, renowned trumpet player, band leader, composer and music arranger, passed away peacefully into Heaven at 9:28 am on Friday, October 8, 2010, at Proctor Hospital. His wife Shirley and his family were at his bedside.
Mr. Hardesty was born December 16, 1926, in Monmouth, Illinois, to Harold and Vera Robinson Hardesty. He is survived by his wife and children Mark (Theresa), Jim (Carla), Sherill Diepenbrock, Janet (Dr. Mark) Werking, all of Peoria, John (Sheryl) of Lewistown, and Linda (David) Blazis of Colorado Springs, CO, as well as his 18 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. He was an inspiration to all of them, and they were his pride and joy.
Bill began to play trumpet at a young age, inspired by his self-taught grandfather, Francis “Ed” Robinson. With his brother Harold, Bill began his first band in the eighth grade at Reservoir Grade School. He attended Woodruff High School and directed the jazz bands and the pit orchestras for the school musicals while also performing in the Peoria Symphony Orchestra and the Peoria Municipal Band, directed by his high school band director and mentor, Forrest J. Woodman. Still in high school, Bill was asked to play in several Big Bands and joined the Freddie Stevens Orchestra. He continued to study music at Bradley University where he was a charter member of Phi Mu Alpha music fraternity. Bill then joined the Navy and played in the Navy Band in Washington, DC. He returned to Bradley to finish his degree and then taught music in the public schools for many years.
Bill met his high school sweetheart, Shirley, at a Peoria Municipal Band concert in 1942. They were both musicians and played in the bands together at Woodruff and Bradley. They were married on March 21, 1948, at Glen Oak Christian Church. Bill and Shirley enjoyed 62 years of marriage together and were blessed with a wonderful, loving and supportive family.
Together, Bill and Shirley began the Bill Hardesty Orchestra in 1950. The band quickly became very popular playing every weekend for many social functions in ballrooms including The Hub, Inglaterra, Peoria and Mt. Hawley Country Clubs, and many private dances throughout Illinois. He arranged and was the director of the 17 piece band for the Heart of Illinois Fair Grandstand shows for over 25 years. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, Bill was asked to travel with other well known Big Bands and toured on cruise ships and travelled extensively throughout the United States and Europe. Meanwhile, Bill continued to arrange as son John took over leadership of the bands locally. The Bill Hardesty Bands continue under John’s direction with wife, Sheryl, and Bill’s daughter Sherill Diepenbrock. They are available to play for all occasions.
Throughout most of his musical career, Bill was a cabinet maker and owned Hardesty Custom Cabinets and Millwork.
Bill, Shirley and family were active members of Glen Oak Christian Church where he was a Deacon, Elder, and Elder Emeritus. He also directed youth and adult choirs for several years and played trumpet for special services.
Mr. Hardesty’s visitation will be held on Tuesday, October 12, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm. at Cumerford-Hurd Funeral Home, 428 W. McClure Ave. The funeral service will be Wednesday, October 13, at 11:00 am. at Glen Oak Christian Church, 1115 E. Republic. Rev. Dr. Randy Williams and Pastor Joey Watt will officiate. Burial will be in Swan Lake Memory Gardens.
Memorial contributions may be made to Glen Oak Christian Church.
Hammitt–Hott Funeral Home, Princeville, is in charge of arrangements.
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