Tuneful Tales – Mike Reuter

Lt. Col. Edward “Mike” Reuter is the classic example of a person who learned to play an instrument early in life and now plays again after a long sabbatical. He plays clarinet in the New Horizons Band and One Time More Marching Band, although he no longer marches with them. Playing music gives him “something to do” and he practices every day to keep up with the music and keep his clarinet chops in shape. He plays a Buffet R13 with Vandoren reeds.

Born in 1922, Mike has lived an interesting and service-filled life.  He was born and raised in Tacoma, Washington. He learned to play the C clarinet his older brother gave him in junior high school. For a year he had to play the “C Melody Saxophone” part in band because of his instrument, but then his director told his mother that she needed to get him a B flat clarinet, which she did. He played in the band all the way through high school.

After high school he worked in the Tacoma shipyard and played in the shipyard band. About once a week the band played for the launching of a ship. Then, he went to Washington State University, but did not play music. He was studying Physical Education and was on the wrestling team in the 145-pound weight class. But war broke out and after finishing the school year, he volunteered for the army at age 20.

Mike spent three years as an army leader in North Africa, Italy, France, Belgium, and Germany and was a rifle platoon  leader in B company of the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion. He has been awarded the bronze star, Purple Heart, and has 6 battle stars for major battles in the European theater. Recently, the French government awarded him the Knight of the Legion of Honor, the highest award for soldiers serving in France in WWII.

When the war ended Mike went back to Washington State to finish school. According to Mike, “the GI bill paid for the schooling, and it was easy”. He met his wife, Beverly, and was married during his senior year. They raised five sons. After graduation they headed to University of Illinois where he gained two more degrees, a Master’s and a PhD in Physical Education.

His professional career involved teaching PE and coaching wrestling at the University of Illinois, University of Washington, and the University of Oregon where he taught and coached for 31 years. Now, well into retirement, he builds and flies radio controlled airplanes, belongs to several veteran organizations and the Oregon Traditional Jazz Society.  He is teaching one grandson to play clarinet and trying to convince one of his sons to start playing saxophone again.

Mike names his service in the war as his most memorable life experiences, and says “I have it easy now”. Keep playing Mike. You’ve earned it.

-Pat Knaus

Tuneful Tales is a monthly series that features stories about Eugene area music makers and shakers. Stay tuned as we bring you another memorable and musical tale!

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