Class Bulletin Board

Martin Andersen Update

Dear Friends,

I wanted to bring your attention to the newly-released movie “Maestro”, about the life of musician Leonard Bernstein starring, and directed by, Bradley Cooper. I was one of the musicians hired to play in an orchestra featured in several scenes of the film. I haven’t seen the movie yet; but it’s possible I’ll get a few seconds of screen time, being seated on the first stand of violas, right in front of Cooper playing the 25 year old Berstein making his 1946 conducting debut in Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic. Lots of fun being inside the elaborate process of making this part of the story come alive.  

The film is receiving favorable reviews – NY Times link below:

‘Maestro’ Review: Leonard Bernstein’s Life of Ecstasy and Agony – The New York Times

Participating in this production had a particularly personal meaning for me, because Leonard Bernstein was responsible for my interest in taking up the violin in the first place. Beginning at age 5 in Omaha, Nebraska, I would watch Berstein conducting the New York Philharmonic in a series of “Young Peoples’ Concerts” NBC television broadcasts on Sunday afternoons. This was the origin of how that child, long ago, became fascinated with orchestral classical music, and especially the strings.

Many years later, my orchestra, New Jersey Symphony, was chosen as the orchestra to celebrate Bernstein’s 70th birthday with a gala concert in Carnegie Hall. The program we performed was entirely his compositions: Candide, West Side Story, On the Waterfront (shot in Hoboken NJ!), Jeremiah Symphony, etc. He was in attendance – and he mingled with the musicians afterwards; so I was finally able to meet the man who inspired me so many years ago.

Happy Thanksgiving!


[Webmaster’s Note: Maestro will begin streaming on Netflix on December 20, 2023.]

In Memory of Joan R. Gilpin

Joan R. Gilpin

Joan R. “Hotie” Gilpin, 94, died peacefully Monday, November 20, 2023 surrounded by family.

Joan, known to most as “Hotie”, was born February 26, 1929 in Washington, Iowa, the daughter of Thomas “Gib” and Olive (Pfeifer) Hotle. She was raised on a farm near Columbus Junction and attended grade school at Frog Pond Country School on Goose Creek near Gladwin, Iowa. Hotie graduated from Columbus Junction High School in 1946. She was a 1951 graduate of the Mercy School of Nursing.

Hotie married William “Bill” Gilpin on February 5, 1951. Bill died on March 3, 2010.

Hotie was a nurse at Mercy Hospital from 1979 to 1993, and later an office nurse for Dr. Kammermeyer. She was passionate about her career in nursing. It was obvious by the way she unselfishly cared for her family, friends and patients.

Hotie was gifted with a beautiful voice. She and her sister Jean, performed in several vocal contests in her younger years. Hotie and her late son Brad were long time members of St. Mary’s choir.

She also assisted Bill at their family business, Gilpin Paint and Glass. Following retirement, Hotie and Bill spent the winter months in Venice, Florida.

Most important to Hotie was her family. And she welcomed everyone with open arms & treated them like family. Hotie instilled in her children the value of hard work, strong morals and to strive to treat others as they would like to be treated. She loved to see her grand dogs and they loved to see her, always spoiling them with more than enough treats. Some of her favorite things were hummingbirds, fresh flowers and the return of robinskis in the spring.

Hotie is survived by her children, Patrick (Sandy) Gilpin and Victoria Gilpin, both of Iowa City, Rebecca “Becki” (Bruce) Milne of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Jay (Staci) Gilpin of Duluth, Minnesota, Jean Gilpin (Todd Gillihan) of Coralville, Elizabeth “Beth” Bernard (Neil Madsen) of Bozeman, Montana; daughter-in-law, Deb Gilpin of Iowa City; nine grandchildren, Alysha (Justin), Meghan, Katie (Kirk), Andrew (Sarah), Abbey (Jess), Nathan, Kenna, Tessa (Bennett), and Koby; great grandchildren, Henry, Julie, June, and Archer.

Hotie was preceded in death by her parents; husband Bill; her son Bradley “Brad”; son-in-law, Don Bernard; siblings Thomas (Mildred) Hotle and Jean (Richard) Liebendorfer.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to St. Mary Catholic Church or Briarwood Health Care Center.

In Memory of Shirley A. Ranshaw

Shirley A. Ranshaw

Shirley A. (Thomas) Ranshaw, age 87 longtime Iowa City resident died Thursday, November 16, 2023, at Briarwood Care Center in Iowa City.

In lieu of flowers memorial donations can be made to Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center or Essence of Life Hospice in Amana.

Shirley Ann Thomas was born on August 16, 1936, in Johnson County, Iowa, the daughter of Fred and Marcella (Mullinnex) Thomas. Shirley attended Lone Tree High School. On May 10, 1959, she married Kenneth E. Ranshaw. Together they opened Ken’s Farm Auto Store in Iowa City which later became the first discount store in this area. They also became founding partners in Western World. Later, they developed and operated K & R Rentals, along with a number of other developments. Shirley was always supportive of Ken’s business ventures and truly a big part of them.

Shirley was also involved with the Red Hat Club, the Knee Knockers and attended water aerobics. She also loved a good movie and adored dogs. More than anything though, she had a special place in her heart for her family and friends.

Her family includes her children, Karen Tardy (Eugene), Kathy Paulsen (special friend, Fred Cox) and Kurt Ranshaw (Laurie); grandchildren, Shawn Paulsen (Laura), Brent Paulsen, Katie Kettells (Greg) and Zak Ranshaw; great-grandchildren, Lily, Jack and Jonah and Jonah’s mother, Audie Barker; sisters, Carolyn Hammer, Linda Milder, Patricia Thomas; and a brother, Darryl Thomas.

Preceded in death by her parents, husband, Ken; granddaughter, Jenna Tardy and in-laws, Jerry Hammer, Allen Milder and Sandy Thomas. 

In Shirley’s smiling memory, please eat a piece of chocolate and remember Shirley!

In Memory of Nora Lee Balmer

Elderly Caucasian woman with gray hair, pearls
Nora Lee Balmer

Nora Lee Balmer lived an inspiring 95-year life. Born to James and Gladys Nesmith on Groundhog Day, February 2, 1928, she rarely slowed down until her passing on November 1, 2023. 

Family committal services were at Memory Gardens. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the University of Iowa Center for Advancement for the Iowa Men’s Wrestling Program. 1 West Park Rd, Iowa City IA 52242.

NoraLee married Wayne Balmer in 1947. In 1958 they moved to Iowa City to join the family business, Plumbers Supply Company (PSC). Though retiring in 1998, NoraLee’s influence is still felt in the back office of PSC. 

Outside of the business, NoraLee was passionate about Hawkeye Wrestling, loved the arts and Hancher Auditorium, and gave generously to groups and causes she supported. 

More than anything Noralee was committed to her family and did everything possible to keep them connected and ensure they were loved.

NoraLee is survived by her children John (Penny) Balmer, James (Andrea) Balmer, and Mary Balmer; grandchildren Thomas (DaLayne Williamson) Balmer; Katherine (Jeff) Penland; Betsy (Greg) Kaiser; David R. Balmer, Ben (Sarah) Freeman, Jennie (Ben) Wunderlich, Julie (Ben) Tweedt, Sally (Erik) Wolf, and Matthew Gessner; 13 great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. 

NoraLee was preceded in death by her parents; her beloved husband, Wayne; her son, David Scott Balmer; and her sister, Susan Johnson.

Paul Roberts at the Englert Theater


Our classmate Paul Roberts plays banjo with the Burlington Street Bluegrass Band. Classmate Jackie (Dague) Nicholson wants us to know that Paul and the Band will be opening for the Del McCoury Band at the Englert Theater on November 8.

Here is the announcement, sent out by the Burlington Street Bluegrass Band.

There is no bluegrass at the Wildwood next Wednesday, as the The Burlington Street Bluegrass Band will be opening for the Del McCoury Band at the Englert Theatre in Iowa City, 7:30 PM on Wednesday, November 8th.  Del McCoury has been a giant in bluegrass music for six decades.  Del and his band have been awarded nine International Bluegrass Music Association Entertainer of the Year trophies, two Grammy awards and enjoy membership in the legendary Grand Ole Opry.  You can learn more about the Del McCoury Band and purchase tickets here: fear, the BSBB will be back at the Wildwood on November 22nd and again for two more shows in December – 12/6 and 12/20.  Til then, we hope to see you at the Englert!“I consider myself traditional at heart, but I don’t have any boundaries. I’m just a guy that likes to sing and play music. Whatever strikes me to do I’ll do it. Without wrecking things.”

Del McCoury

Alaskan visitor

Hi Dave: 
Thought I’d share the little West High gathering we had earlier today.

Janet Gregory came back to Iowa City for a visit from her home in Alaska and found a few hours to get together. Janet, Sue Davison and Nancy (Masbruch) Olinger caught up on the latest over the past several years. Janet and Nancy became friends way back in kindergarten and then we met Sue in 7th grade. Lots of laughter and memories shared. We even pulled in Carla (Blaug) Kestler via FaceTime from California for a bit. It was a walk down memory lane.

Take care,

Sue (Davison) Haigh, Nancy (Masbruch) Olinger, and Janet Gregory