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Remembering Dan Gilgenbach – “The Music Man” of Fond du Lac | Courtesy Sharon Roznik

April 24, 2019 – Fond du Lac, WI – Dan Gilgenbach, the owner of Mike’s Music and Sound in Fond du Lac, was laid to rest on Tuesday, April 23. Gilgenbach, 54, who battled cancer and beat it nearly 30 years ago, died from complications of cancer on April 18.

Below is a portion of a story by Sharon Roznik posted on the front page of the Fond du Lac Reporter.

Dan Gilgenbach, owner Mike's Music and Sound, died April 18. A tribute to his life will take place Tuesday afternoon at an open jam held at the Knights of Columbus Hall.

“If there’s a rock n’ roll heaven, you know they’ve got a hell of a band,” the Righteous Brothers once sang.

If it’s true, then Fond du Lac’s Dan Gilgenbach just joined, with his tenor sax in hand.

The city’s beloved “music man” and owner of Mike’s Music and Sound on North Main Street died April 18, at the age of  54, from complications of cancer.

Family and friends have planned a musical tribute to his legacy that should bring down the house. Area musicians will gather for an open jam Tuesday afternoon at Knights of Columbus Hall. The jam follows an 11 a.m. service at Holy Family Catholic Church and entombment at Calvary Cemetery.

Those who knew Gilgenbach say there isn’t a part of the area’s music community he left untouched. He believed live music was better, he believed in the power of positive energy and he believed a good laugh could cure just about anything.

“No matter what kind of day you had, when you came to rehearsal there was Dan with his terrific smile, ready to make you laugh,” said Dale Shipe, director of the Fond du Lac Symphonic Band. “He had a great sense of humor and a great gift of gab.”

Gilgenbach had a long-time seat in the orchestra and was also a member of the Lighthouse Big Band, Flat Tire Band, Tin Sandwich Band, Holy Family Jazz Choir and various jazz combos, according to his obituary.

He helped generations of families learn to play musical instruments. In a 2013 interview with USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin, Gilgenbach said he had taught more than 200 students. Imagine what that number is today.

“I learned to love music very early on because it was a part of the fabric of my family,” he said. His father James was the lead singer and guitarist in two popular bands, the Stingrays and the Stagemen, during the 1960s.

North Fond du Lac High School band director Gerry Scudella remembers he and Gilgenbach taking saxophone lessons at St. Mary’s Springs Academy. The two played together in the Symphonic Band and the Lighthouse Big Band.

Scudella said just a few weeks ago Gilgenbach told him he was convinced that he would conquer his illness, like he did some 30 years ago. In 1986, he underwent treatment for Hodgkins disease and had beat the odds, remained cancer-free until last month. He was planning a big party next year to celebrate 30 years of good health.

“I was blown away he was just so positive,” Scudella said. “But he was like this about everything — he had this energy that affected everyone around him.”

In March 2014 a massive fire damaged St. Lawrence Seminary in Mount Calvary, destroying the high school’s music department and all the equipment. Gilgenbach came to the rescue, working tirelessly to get them replacement instruments.

When students performed at solo and ensemble programs — sponsored by the Wisconsin School Music Association and hosted a various school districts — Gilgenbach would spend ….

Click HERE to read the rest of the story by Sharon Roznik in the Fond du Lac Reporter.

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