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Frederick O. Leist

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Frederick O. Leist Obituary
Leist, Frederick O.

Frederick O. Leist, Nov 25, 1916- January 23, 2015, (98), Oshkosh, WI and recently of Poynette, WI, passed away peacefully in his home surrounded by family on Friday, January 23, 2015.

Fred was born in South Milwaukee, the son of Fred and Norma Leist. He was born into a musical family and went on to college and graduated with a major in music and minor in drama from Milwaukee State Teachers College where he met his wife, Dorothy. Upon graduating, he taught elementary band, choir and music in Algoma for four years. On August 10, 1940, Fred married Dorothy Nelsen in Racine at Gethsemane Lutheran Church. Two years later, they moved to Oshkosh where Fred directed the bands at the high school; a year later he entered the military, first in the Army Air Corps and later the Navy as a gunnery and engineering officer on a Submarine Chaser serving in WWII. His wife, Dorothy, took over his band directing position while he was deployed. Soon after Fred returned he added the choirs to his duties, directing both the band and choir departments for six years, finally concentrating on the choirs. During his career he performed in and directed fifty operettas, musicals and operas; his 50th recently as a special guest director in the Portage High School production of Beauty and the Beast in the Fall of 2013. Under his direction, the Oshkosh High School Choir received national attention during Fred's tenure.

In 1947, he began an association with the Peace Lutheran Choir at Peace Lutheran Church in Oshkosh where he was a member for more than 50 years; he and Dorothy directed the church choir for fifteen years before retiring. Fred Leist was the first president of the Wisconsin Music Educators Conference and, with Harold Arentson, organized the Wisconsin Retired Music Masters. He retired from the Oshkosh school system in 1974 and since then he and his wife, prior to her death, have golfed, traveled extensively and spent their winters in Lake Wales, Florida for a number of years; truly enjoying life. A great love of music led Fred to become a major influence in high school music, teaching and mentoring numerous students over the years, many who became lifelong friends. This love of mentoring and teaching sparked Fred to write, in 2011, "Singing is for THE BIRDS" in anticipation of his 95th birthday which was written and intended to help other educators find that perfect sound for their choirs. His musical inspiration will continue for years to come through this nonfiction depiction and through the 1000s of students he inspired throughout his career.

He is survived by his son, Dr. Frederick Leist and wife, Lucille (Skjeie) Leist, Silverdale, WA, daughter, Sue (Leist) Wilson, and husband, Gary Wilson, of Poynette, WI, eight grandchildren, fifteen great- grandchildren and many more beloved family members and friends. He was preceded in death by his mother, Norma, his father, Fred, his brother, Bob, his sister, Margaret, and beloved wife of 65 years, Dorothy (Nelsen) Leist. A celebration of life will be held in his honor at a later date in Oshkosh, WI. In lieu of flowers, memorials made to the Fred Leist Music Scholarship Fund at the Oshkosh Community Foundation, 404 N. Main Street Suite 205, Oshkosh, WI 54901, (920) 426-3993, would be appreciated. Arrangements are being made through Smith Funeral Home and Cremation Service in Rio, WI.

Published in Oshkosh Northwestern on Jan. 27, 2015
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