Seriously ill with cancer, Lindbergh High School bandleader Bob Spiegelman traveled to Pasadena, Calif., with his student musicians. On Jan. 1, they stepped off together in the Tournament of Roses Parade.
"He was smiling like a little kid," said Cody Filben, a senior trombonist with Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis Marching Band. "I've never seen him happier."
On Monday, Filben and his fellow musicians gathered in the band room to make personal cards and posters for their leader's family. Robert Spiegelman died Sunday (March 20, 2011) at Barnes-Jewish Hospital of Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was 54 and had lived in west St. Louis County.
"Even when things were down, he always believed in us. He pushed us to do our best," said Filben, 17.
Mr. Spiegelman was band leader at St. Charles West High School for 12 years before he joined the Lindbergh staff in 1993. His Lindbergh band marched in the Rose Bowl parade in 2005 and this year. The Lindbergh jazz ensemble, under his direction, traveled to Paris in 1997 to play in the 70th anniversary of the New York-to-Paris flight of Charles A. Lindbergh, their school's namesake.
He was diagnosed with cancer more than a year ago. David Wyss, an assistant bandleader at Lindbergh, said Mr. Spiegelman tried to shield the students from the effects of his illness. He said Mr. Spiegelman was delighted when doctors told him in December that he could travel to California.
"I don't know where he got his strength that day, but nothing was going to stop him," Wyss said. "When he didn't feel well, he'd go back to the hotel. He'd get some rest and be back with the kids, goofing around and making silly faces for them. He was thrilled to be there."
Before the band headed for California, Mr. Spiegelman called the trip a "huge honor" for his students. After the Rose Bowl, he was unable to return for regular classes.
He grew up in University City and west St. Louis County and graduated from Parkway North High School, where he played saxophone in the marching band. He received a degree in music education from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he played in Marching Mizzou and also earned a master's degree. He became St. Charles West's band leader in 1981.
When Mr. Spiegelman moved to Lindbergh High in 1993, the marching band had about 50 members, which he built to its current strength of 217. He also led the school's symphonic band and jazz ensemble, and taught a course in music recording and production.
He is survived by his parents, Fred and Cecile Spiegelman of west St. Louis County, and a brother, Ron Spiegelman of Columbia, Ill.
A graveside service will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol Cemetery, 9125 Ladue Road. Memorials may be made to the PBM-Lambda Foundation, 834 Rochdale Drive, Kirkwood, Mo., 63122.
Editors: The 5th paragraph has been substituted to correct the anniversary of Lindbergh's flight.