FAIRFIELD — Ronald Louis Prill, 81, of Fairfield, died peacefully in his sleep Sept. 9, 2013, at Jefferson County Health Center.
Ron Prill was born April 15, 1932, in Fairfield, the son of Orville and Elvira Rudi Prill. After her death, Ron’s father married Mary Barnes Gunerson. Ron Prill married Betty Lou Bipes on Dec. 18, 1955, in Ottumwa. She died Oct. 12, 2001.
Mr. Prill graduated from Fairfield High School in 1950. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Parsons College in 1954 and a Master of Arts degree in music education from State University of Iowa in 1962.
In 1948, Mr. Prill joined the Iowa Army National Guard, 34th Army Band, as enlisted trombonist. He was named the director and company commander of the 34th Army Band in 1972, a post he held for 20 years. He retired from the Iowa Army National Guard in 1992 after 44 years of service. He received many awards, including the Legion of Merit.
As a member and later commander of the 34th Army Band, Mr. Prill played a large role in performing summer band concerts in Central Park. When the 34th Army Band could no longer play concerts in the park, Mr. Prill organized the Fairfield Municipal Band in 1987 so summer concerts could continue. Mr. Prill directed the municipal band for a few years; however, even after he stepped down as director, he continued to play with the band until June of this year. In all, Mr. Prill brought music to the community for more than 50 summers.
On July 30, 2013, Fairfield City Mayor Ed Malloy dedicated the bandstand in Central Park to Mr. Prill for his years of dedication to the city of Fairfield. After receiving this award, Mr. Prill directed the municipal band in a march for the last time.
After earning his Bachelor of Arts degree, Mr. Prill taught vocal and instrumental music from 1954-56 at New Sharon Independent School District in New Sharon. In 1956, he accepted a position as elementary music teacher for Fairfield Independent Schools. He was later named music teacher at the new Fairfield Junior High School (now Pence Elementary). When his mentor Dillon Lowell retired in 1972, Ron accepted the position of band director at Fairfield High School, a position he held until his retirement from teaching in 1992.
During his tenure at FHS, Mr. Prill took band students on many trips. Under his supervision, FHS band students were able to perform at International Lions Conventions in Mexico City and Phoenix, Ariz., as well as Disneyland, Disneyworld and Winnipeg, Canada.
In addition to his involvement with the FHS, 34th Army and Fairfield Municipal bands, Mr. Prill played in many small music groups, including church and community bands. He was an original member of the Fairfield Dixieland Band and a member of the Iowa Military Veterans Band and Tarnished Brass Band in Van Buren County. He also sang in the Fairfield Community Chorus.
After his retirement from teaching and the military, Mr. Prill served as the Jefferson County Emergency Management Coordinator for four years. He was a member of the Fairfield Lions Club for more than 50 years. He also was a member of First Lutheran Church ELCA, the Fairfield Concert Association and the Education Foundation of Fairfield Public Schools.
Mr. Prill served as president of the CALU Apartment Board and the Iowa Bandmaster’s Association. He also was editor of the Iowa Bandmaster’s Association state magazine for four years. In addition to his lifelong devotion to music, Mr. Prill enjoyed golfing, swimming, biking, boating, waterskiing, camping and creating jewelry art and memory books for his family.
Survivors include two daughters, Nancy Prill Leathers and spouse Jerry Leathers of Stockport and Linda Prill Mench and spouse R. Michael Mench of Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany; and five grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and one stepaunt, Elaine Peters.
His parents, his stepmother and his wife preceded him in death.
A funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at United Methodist Church; Rev. Stacy Grau officiating. Burial will be at Evergreen Cemetery in Fairfield with military rites by the 34th Army Band, Iowa Army National Guard.
Visitation for family and friends is 5-8 p.m. Friday at Raymond Funeral Home.
Memorials may be made to the Education Foundation of Fairfield Public Schools for a planned Ron Prill Memorial Scholarship, First Lutheran Church or Fairfield Concert Association.
Cards and memorials can be sent to Linda Prill Mench at Raymond Funeral Home, 112 W. Burlington Ave., Fairfield, Iowa 52556.
Arrangements are in the care of the Raymond Funeral Home in Fairfield.
Online condolences may be sent to www.raymondfuneralhomes.com.