Alum receives 60th birthday gift from wife that stirs memories, supports strings
Some of Dick Hebert’s happiest memories from college happened in a beginning strings class. As Music Professor Joseph Cordeiro raised his baton and called out “1, 2, 3,” bows were placed on strings, and the instruments began to squeak out “Mary Had a Little Lamb” — again and again.
Although the sounds were painful, Cordeiro’s passion was evident. He had recruited many of his students from the Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) fraternity he advised. Fraternity members, including Dick, were mainly student athletes. Many had never laid eyes on a sheet of music.
“It is amazing he was able to reach us or have an impact on someone who didn’t share his interest, his passion,” recalls Dick, ’83, “We all respected him. We loved him. He wanted us to be successful students socially and athletically … holistically.”
Dick’s wife, Karen, says, in retrospect some 40 years later, Dick is that “whole” person. The former UWL offensive lineman still has not only a continued zest for football, but also a love of classical music. He is his city’s park and recreation director who referees football games on the side and enjoys being a St. Paul Chamber Orchestra season ticket holder. He is a perfect match for Karen, a UW-Eau Claire graduate who minored in music and learned her appreciation for sports officiating and public parks and recreation programs from Dick.
“I’m so proud of him and therefore so grateful for all of the influences that made him the man he is,” says Karen.
That gratitude gave Karen an interesting idea.
A few months ago, at a small bar in Key West, Florida, Karen and Dick sipped drinks while a guitar player improvised on island music. Because it was Dick’s 60th birthday, at one point, the musician invited him on stage in celebration. It just so happened that another UWL alum was also visiting the same Key West bar. That alum, Jay Scott, decided to join Dick on the stage where he shared a bit about Dick’s UWL history. Jay looked familiar to Dick, but they hadn’t been close friends in college, and he was definitely suspicious something was up. Still, he had no idea what Karen had planned.
Scott, a senior development officer with the UWL Foundation, then presented Dick with the news that Karen had established a scholarship in his honor.
“The Dick Hebert UWL Offensive Line Concert Master Music Scholarship” honors both Dick’s music and football influences in its name. It is awarded to the concert master in the orchestra. Karen took great delight in expanding the name to appeal to Dick’s football past while also giving a nod to that class where his appreciation for music began.
“It celebrates the idea of how a university education builds broad appreciation and understanding in someone,” she says.
Karen hopes the award helps the Music Department recruit for the concert master (a.k.a. lead violinist) seat. The couple looks forward to being able to meet that individual as their scholarship is awarded through the years. The first will be awarded in April.
“I hope that the concert master is encouraged by the fact that someone cares about their individual excellence, which allows them to take that seat not only as a musician, but also as a leader,” she says. “Dick and I really value leadership.”
Dick is grateful for the surprise scholarship as he has many fond memories from UWL — even beyond that class with Cordeiro.
“It was really creative what Karen came up with,” he says. “I was definitely honored.”