Barry Jon Lauritzen

1958 - 2009

Barry Lauritzen, a versatile musician and accomplished percussionist, taught music as a student missionary while in college, at three junior academies in the Northwest, and at one in the Chicago area. He was a creative person with high standards and a diligence that endeared him to his students and friends.

The younger of two sons born to Adrian and Evelyn Sorensen Lauritzen, Barry was raised in a home where both parents were professional musicians. From his earliest years, he was fascinated with rhythm. Although he started piano study with his mother at age 4 1/2, percussion was his first love and he began taking percussion lessons from a member of the Minnesota Orchestra while still in grade school. This study continued throughout his high school years at Maplewood Academy where he was principal percussionist in the band.

Lauritzen attended Union College, where he majored in percussion and completed a music education degree with honors in 1982. While attending UC he became known as an accomplished timpanist and played frequently with off-campus groups. During his time there, he was an announcer and programmer in UC's classical radio station, KUCV. Lauritzen spent two years as a Student Missionary in Brazil, assisting Harry Bennett in the music program at Northeast Brazil College from 1979-1981. During his senior year he was listed in Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities.

Upon graduation from UC he taught music in the Yakima Valley in Washington state at three Adventist junior academies located in Yakima, Grandview, and Central Valley, teaching band, choir, and handbells. In 1987, Lauritzen accepted a position as director of the instrumental program at Hinsdale Junior Academy. While there he completed a master's degree with honors in 1990 at the Vandercook College of Music in downtown Chicago, where he studied euphonium with a member of the Chicago Symphony.

He continued at HJA until 1991, when medical problems ended his teaching career. He was living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the time of his death at age 51.


Sources: Numerous conversations with Barry's mother, Evelyn Lauritzen, 2007-2009; personal knowledge.

Barry Lauritzen

Life Sketch

Jeffrey Lauritzen

Barry was born July 24, 1958, at Swedish Hospital in Minneapolis.

Barry always had a sharp mind. Early on he memorized all the planets. He seemed intrigued with nature and had a bird book that he enjoyed. Perhaps it was because Mom shopped at a "Red Owl" store (old timers will remember that chain) that he wasn’t particularly interested in the robins, bluebirds, or red-winged blackbirds, but when he came to the "nice bright owl for a pet," he became ecstatic.

Barry was always a creative person. Being a boy, he did not play with dolls. But he did play with ducks. Let me explain: the ducks in question were small, rubber farm toy ducks. He’d create houses for them out of cardboard boxes complete with furniture and all the amenities. For transportation he’d remove the windshields and tops from model cars and around the room they’d zoom. These ducks had complex personal lives. One, named "Mrs. Drake," (don’t miss the oxymoron there) played the organ for church on Sabbath mornings and then in nightclubs on Saturday night!

Once he brought his duck city and cars to his kindergarten class at Sunset Hills School for Show and Tell. They were an immediate hit with the children. They even stayed in from recess to play with this unique creation of his! One day several years later Mom noticed he had not played with his ducks for quite some time. It seems he had decided he had outgrown them. When Mom asked where they were, Barry replied, "Oh, I flushed them down the toilet."

His creativity extended to wintertime activities as well. After a big snow he’d dig pathways all over the yard, complete with complex tunnel systems through the larger snow banks and drifts. He was an avid skier as well. Once he broke his leg while skiing. His main concern? "Now I can’t ski any more this season."

Barry attended Minneapolis Junior Academy and the Maple Plain Adventist schools, and later Maplewood Academy. Barry was always thorough at everything he did, whether academics, mowing people’s lawns or doing custodial work at the Minnesota Conference Office. People often remarked as to the thoroughness and excellence of his work.

Barry exhibited an early interest in music. When I acquired my first stereo system, Barry had to have one. When his first one was presented to him, he immediately voiced disapproval with the quality of its sound. As time went by, he continued to upgrade toward a state of the art system. Eventually he had "wired" the whole house for sound. His audiophile tendencies came in handy in college, where be became an announcer at the campus’s radio station, KUCV.

His interests in music included music performance. Barry became an accomplished percussionist, particularly in marimba, timpani, and later hand bells. During his time at Union College, Barry continued to perfect his art, which grew to include a number of wind instruments.

While at Union College Barry chose to spend two years in northeast Brazil as a student missionary, where he led instrumental and choral organizations at Northeast Brazil College. He acquired a working knowledge of the Portuguese language and was able to travel to most of the countries in South America.

He returned to Union College, completed his music education degree, and accepted a teaching position in Washington state, which involved being music teacher in three Adventist junior academies. He enjoyed combining his music organizations from all three schools as a kind of localized music festival, much to the glee of the students and their parents. From there he moved to Hinsdale, Illinois, where he taught at Hinsdale Junior Academy. His bands were noted for excellence. While in the Chicago area he completed a master’s degree in music at VanderCook College of Music.

Barry was quite athletic, often participating in triathlons and 5 and 10k runs, and he has the souvenir T-shirts to prove it! He purchased a state-of-the-art lightweight bicycle as well as memberships in the local "Y" to keep in shape for these events.

Barry had a deep, personal relationship with God. In one of his Bibles he has written notes and comments expressing his faith and trust in Jesus and rejoicing in his truth.

In the early 1990s, Barry was diagnosed with an unknown neurological disorder that over a period of years progressed, leaving him fully disabled. After many years of being cared for at home he was moved to the ACR Home at Larch Place, a group home which provided him around the clock outstanding care up until the day of his passing. Barry passed away Friday, October 23, 2009, at 3:30 p.m. at Methodist Hospital from complications of pneumonia. He is survived by his mother, Evelyn, brother, Jeff, and sister-in-law, Vicky.

But that’s not the end of the story. At the resurrection he WILL rise, exchanging his disease-ravaged body for one that is brand new, ever to be reunited with us and his Lord.

27 October 2009

A Remembrance

Brian Lauritzen

One of the things I remember most about Uncle Barry was his vast collection of cassette tapes. I guess as a radio guy myself it makes sense that would stick out to me - even as a young kid. He had multiple carrying cases and storage units for all of his tapes, and there was always something new to listen to. I especially liked it when my dad would borrow some of Uncle Barry’s tapes because that usually meant new recordings of the News from Lake Wobegon to listen to on the long car rides home.

Uncle Barry also had a lot of sophisticated audio equipment. Again, as a future radio producer, I must have subconsciously noticed this. His car stereo was top of the line. His system at home was the best. I remember even his Walkman and headphones were second to none. I have no doubt that today his home would be full of all of the latest technological gadgets from iPhones to HDTVs to Blu-Ray players and probably a few things I haven’t even heard of yet.

27 October 2009

A Tribute

Dan Shultz

I first met Barry at music festivals held at Maplewood Academy and at Union College where he anchored the percussion section in the band. By the time he arrived at Union College and enrolled as a music major to pursue percussion as his performance area, he had already studied with a professional percussionist in the Minneapolis area and was an accomplished player.

At his first lesson, I assigned him material that recent advanced percussion students had played in graduation recitals. When he returned a week later, he had mastered the material and was ready for more! He was talented and bright, and in the remaining time he studied with me, learned at a pace that was inspiring to behold.

Barry also worked for me in my role as chair of the department. He assisted in the recording of programs and helped upgrade the facilities and equipment that we had at that time. He was totally organized and I knew I could count on him to care for other aspects associated with running the music program, whether it be set-up for festivals, movement of equipment on tours, or assisting Dr. Robert Murray in the construction of a harpsichord kit for the department.

He, like his brother, Jeffery, who had attended Union before him, was an outstanding musician who had a vitalizing effect on the music program. One of my regrets when I left Union to go to Walla Walla College in 1979 was losing contact with the Lauritzen family.

Barry in time became an academy music teacher in the Northwest, where I had the pleasure of working with him as a colleague. We had several visits when he was on the college campus and, on one occasion, I traveled to his school to work with his students and assist with a festival. These contacts are a special memory for me now.

In those contacts with Barry over the years, I was impressed with not only his dedication to music but also his commitment to Christ. He was a valued friend and inspiration to me. I was saddened to learn in conversations with his mother Evelyn in the past few months about his debilitating illness and its progression and, just this morning, of his passing. I look forward to seeing Barry restored to his youthful vigor and enthusiasm in the earth made new.

27 October 2009