Former UI band director dies


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Frank Piersol’s son remembers him as a man dedicated to his family, his friends, and his love for music.

Piersol, a former UI band director, died Feb. 19. He was 98 years old.

The former director of the Cedar Rapids Municipal Band was a great storyteller and joker, a hard worker and had a magnificent personality, his friends and family said.

“He was an extremely friendly and kind person,” said his son, Jim Piersol.

Piersol’s optimistic personality never faltered in his professional career. Jim Piersol noted his father was a dedicated and tireless worker. These qualities allowed him to build and conduct bands to their best possible level of performance.

“He was a person who could get the best out of people,” said Robert Sadilek, a member of the municipal band and one of Piersol’s friends.

Piersol was born in Clarkfield, Minn., on Oct. 27, 1911. He graduated from Rockwell High School and later from Grinnell College in 1933. After receiving a master’s degree from the University of Iowa in 1943, he was hired as the band director at Iowa State University. He remained in Ames until taking up the same position at the UI in 1967, where he held until retiring in 1980.

Piersol’s passion for music remained vibrant as he continued to serve as band director for the Cedar Rapids Municipal Band until 1993.

Sadilek first met Piersol in 1973 in the Cedar Rapids band and immediately noticed the director’s charisma.

“When you talked to him, you got the impression that you were his best friend,” Sadilek recalled on Sunday.

While Piersol was a hard worker, he never put his family second, Jim Piersol said. He was married for more than 60 years.

When Jim Piersol, 62, and older brother Jon Piersol were younger, they often accompanied their father during band performances, helping to set up and performing.

“He had plenty of time for us,” Jim Piersol said. “He was just a very great father.”

Piersol’s personality and attitude in his music career lifted him to nationwide respect.

Nancy Piersol, Jim Piersol’s wife, noted the many times people were affected by her father-in-law.

“He was so well-known and beloved by every person he came in contact with,” she said.

Piersol is survived by his two sons and their wives, Jon and Melissa Piersol, and Jim and Nancy Piersol, as well as six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Memorials and condolences may be sent to Gay and Ciha Funeral and Cremation Service.

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