John Ellis Weitzel has lived a very active life. Raised by parents Lorman Bruce and Helene Janet Weitzel in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, he grew up loving music and took trumpet lessons at an early age. Following high school, he served in the US Army during WWII.
John and his wife, Dixie, earned bachelor’s degrees in music from the College of Wooster, Ohio, and John earned a master’s in music education from Columbia University in New York City. They raised two sons, Bruce and John Jr.
John worked for thirty-five years as a high school band director in East Liverpool and Alliance, Ohio, winning many awards and leading his band in front of millions of TV viewers and spectators at professional football games. He is now retired and currently resides in Grand Rapids, Michigan. At age ninety-three, he remains very active—spending time with his family and friends, playing baritone horn in several bands, and telling stories of his friendship with Henry Mancini to retirement and nursing home residents and other interested groups in the area.
Coauthor Lesley Elizabeth Himmel enjoyed growing up on a farm near Brown City, Michigan, with parents Nick and Alma Himmel, and siblings Susan, Beverly, Debra, and Nick. Following high school, she earned a bachelor’s degree and graduate certificate in business education from Central Michigan University and worked in the field of education. Lesley is now retired and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She enjoys time with daughters Emily (Cory) and Leah (Zachary), and grandchildren Mia, Nolan, Vaughn, Brooke, and Dean, also attending church and playing in a community band.