Bio: Urban, Joe, Jr. (UW-Madison Alumnus- 2015)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
Surnames: Urban, Filardo, Buker
----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co, WI) 2/18/2015
Urban, Joe, Jr. (UW-Madison Alumni - 2015)
UW-Alumni Joe Urban set to enjoy UW-Varsity Band Concert
UW-Madison alumni Joe Urban, 91, of Neillsville is eagerly anticipating the UW-Varsity Band/Badger Band concert at the Fieldhouse Saturday, Feb. 28. Urban was a clarinet player in the band back in 1941. (Todd Schmidt/Clark County Press)
By Todd Schmidt
Joe Urban, Jr. 91, of Neillsville is anxious to attend the performance of the UW-Varsity Bank, comprised of about 120 members of the Badger Marching Band, scheduled Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Fieldhouse in Neillsville.
‘It will bring back a lot of fond Memories,’ Urban said.
As a freshman in 1941, Urban played clarinet in the UW-Varsity Band and Marching Band. He graduated from Sevastopol High School that same year as salutatorian of his class.
In high school, Urban was a star athlete in basketball, baseball and football. The team won the conference championship all four years of Urban’s high school career; the first three under Coach Frank Filardo and his senior year under Coach Cy Buker, who would later come to Greenwood.
The principal at that time was Ivan Lauscher. In another interesting parallel, Lauscher moved on to become superintendent of the School District of Neillsville. ‘Lauscher was a real smart guy,’ Urban recalled.
Urban was given a scholarship to attend UW-Madison.
His family owned the Lakeview supper club in Jacksonport, near the shores of Lake Michigan. He and his brother Bob enjoyed swimming, fishing, golfing, water skiing and skating.
It was commonplace for the brothers to catch 100 perch in an hour.
‘They were keepers, too,’ Joe smiled. ‘We were able to furnish Mom with all the fish she needed for the Friday Fish Fry.’
Urban attended grades one through six at the Jacksonport School. The family decided to go to St. Petersburg. FL, in December 1934. They stayed at the White City Campgrounds. Urban attended the first part of seventh grade at St. Petersburg area schools.
‘I learned real quickly that the Confederates won all the battles in the Civil War,’ he smiled.
The family returned to Jacksonport, where Urban finished the seventh grade.
That year, a tragic fire destroyed the supper club. In addition to losing the building, the Urban family lost all their personal belongings. The fire started due to an electrical short in the fancy neon sign placed near the roof.
The family moved to a 40-acre parcel of land they owned west of Jacksonport. Tourists rented cabins there in the summertime.
A short time later the Urban family rented the Grove supper club located across from the airport in Kewaunee. Urban finished the eighth grade at the Kewaunee Grade School.
The family bought a 1928 Model A Coupe, which a neighbor used to drive the boys back and forth to school. Urban also had access to the car, learning to drive using the airport runway.
The Urbans decided to rebuild a supper club on the site in Jacksonport. The Ivanhoe opened in 1937.
‘It was the most beautiful nightclub in northeastern Wisconsin,’ Urban said. ‘It was an English Style building.’
He waited on tables, earning some pretty good tips. He also caddied at the Maxwelton Braes Golf Course.
One night during the summer of 1941, Urban was waiting on tables. Two of his customers were UW Professor Dvorak and his wife, who were enjoying steak dinners.
‘Professor Dvorak had heard from my Dad that I would be attending UW-Madison,’ Urban recalled. ‘He said I should come to Music Hall to audition so he could get me in the Badger Band.’
Urban marched with the varsity bank in all home football games and in a road game at Soldier Field in Chicago. It was during the heyday of Crazy Legs Hirsch. Urban, an all-conference halfback in high school, was amazed at Hirsch’s ability.
Urban had a lot of practice in marching. The Sevastopol High School Band participated in numerous carnivals and parades in the Egg Harbor and Sturgeon Bay areas.
Dvorak asked Urban why he did not try out for the college football team. ‘I told him I was going to preserve bones and not play football, at least my first year of college,’ Urban said.
At that time, the UW-Varsity Band practiced twice per week. The band also got some warm-up time prior to each football game.
‘We had over 200 members in the band,’ Urban said. ‘We got a big sheet full of instructions that told us we should lift our horns here and move around there.’
After Urban took a time-out from college, Dvorak was involved in a serious car accident.
‘He lost one arm in the accident,’ Urban said. ‘He continued to conduct the band with only one arm’.
The Japanese hit Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941. Urban began a track into the U. S. Army.
He received one-year deferment, meaning he could attend two more semesters of college. Due to the uncertainty of the war, Urban decided to quit the band.
Urban was drafted into the army in August 1943. A story chronicling his military service and working career will follow in a later edition of The Clark County Press.
After his honorable discharge in 1946, Urban returned to UW-Madison under the G. I. Bill to complete his education. Prior to his senior year, his family sold the Ivanhoe. His dad then saw an Allied Realty ad in the Milwaukee paper offering a Chrysler, Plymouth and International truck dealerships for sale in Neillsville.
‘I was going back to UW to complete my final exams for the semester,’ Urban said. ‘We pulled into Neillsville and stopped at Pinky’s tavern. We wondered if this was some sort of hick town.’
They stayed overnight at the Merchants Hotel. The next day, they made a deal with the Schultz family to buy the dealership.
‘I went to Madison for the next week to finish my exams,’ Urban said. ‘I then packed my clothes and headed for Neillsville. I was put in charge of the dealership. At that point I didn’t know beans from buckshot about running a dealership business.’
Urban is excited about the upcoming Badger Band Concert in Neillsville. ‘I am looking forward to meeting the conductor,’ Urban said.
He noted the Badger Band has a long and proud history. It was first organized in 1885 and has been performing every since. The band is well known for its unique marching programs and its fifth quarter performances after Badger football games.
The Badger Band also offers a mind-blowing concert in April of each year. Standing-only crowds, including many alumni and high school music department students from all over the state, pack the Kohl Center in Madison for several high-energy performances.
Prior to the varsity band performance Feb. 28, members of the Neillsville High School Band and others will perform before the Badger Band takes over the venue. Organizer Tom Harnisch said other area UW-Varsity Band alumni are being contacted to attend the extravaganza.
Advance tickets are available at local banks and grocery stores in Neillsville, Greenwood, Loyal and Granton. Prices are adults, $8 in advance and $10 at the door; students, $4 in advance and $5 at the door; and children age 5 and under, free.
Harnisch said the Kiwanis Club, with support of many local businesses, sponsors the performance. ‘Proceeds will be invested back into the community,’ Harnisch said. ‘The Kiwanis Club invests in improving the lives of children and families in the area. Kiwanis supports food distributions, annual student scholarships, Special Olympics, Boy Scouts, the Angel tree and a newly established Aktion Club, a service club for adults with (an error, there was no more in paper)
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4 March 2015
Then a few weeks later the UW-Badger Varsity Band came to town:
Badger Band Rocks Fieldhouse
The UW-Badger Varsity Band rocked the Neillsville Fieldhouse Saturday afternoon with a two-hour concert coordinated by the Neillsville Kiwanis Club and sponsored by a number of Neillsville area businesses. The Neillsville High School Band entertained with popular selections prior to the main event. The Neillsville Color Guard from American Legion Post 73 and VFW Post 2241 presented and retired the colors.
Above, UW-Varsity Band director Michael Leckrone (right) takes a moment to meet Joe Urban Jr., of Neillsville, a UW Band alumnus.
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