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Don Warren (2019), founding director of Drum Corps International

by Kirk Fox

Don Warren was a founding director of Drum Corps International and founder of the Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps in the Chicago area. After seeing a drum corps perform at a Boy Scout Jamboree at Soldier Field in 1946, scout leader Warren talked his troop into starting their own drum corps. Warren quipped, “They were getting tired of tying knots.” He was the leader of the Cavaliers for 60 years, winning 11 National Championships.

Warren and leaders of four other Midwestern drum corps formed an organization in 1971 to govern drum corps competition. That same year, other drum corps across the country joined them to form Drum Corps International, the current governing body for junior drum and bugle corps competition. He was a successful commercial insurance broker outside of drum corps.

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Died: Sunday, May 19, 2019. (Who else died on May 19?)

Details of death: Died at the age of 90 in Arizona.

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What they said about him:  “Books could be written about the positive life shaping contribution this man has made to literally thousands of young men. He was a leader and role model, a team builder and purpose-driven strategist. He set boundaries and demonstrated integrity and loyalty, recognizing talent, delegating authority, and supporting his team members.” —DCI Hall of Fame member Larry McCormick

“Don Warren mastered the role of ‘second father’ for many of us. Like the best of fathers, he helped you understand and appreciate that there were rules in life that needed to be followed for your benefit and for the benefit of the greater good. Don Warren was father, friend, teacher, and teammate. He was a one of a kind, the original Cavalier!” —Former Cavalier Paul Milano

Full obituary: DCI.org

Related lives:

  • Pegi Young (1952–2019), founder of The Bridge School
  • D.J. Fontana (1931–2018), drummer for Elvis Presley


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