On Thursday October 11, 2012 an idea suddenly popped into my head. As I was taking my daily bike ride around the lake at the West Union Recreational Complex, I envisioned a monument along the path commemorating Tom Stahr's life and his impact on the regional, rock 'n roll music scene.
Tom was a friend and former bandmate in the Rubber Band. And he had recently passed away (September 7, 2012) after having battled cancer for several years.
That evening I ran the idea of a memorial in the park past Tom's friend and former Rubber Band vocalist, Larry Crandall. Then I contacted Rich Holm, a local newspaper columnist and longtime Rubber Band enthusiast. He had written several pieces on the band over the years including a definitive, four-part series in 1996 detailing the history of the Rubber Band.
Both Larry and Rich liked this memorial idea and offered their support.
A few days later I spotted Janet and Brett Stahr (Tom's wife and son) at this very same park, and I immediately pedaled my bike over to talk with them. I shared my thoughts and received an enthusiastic "thumbs up" from both of them.
It wasn't long after that I sent a letter to Bruce Crandall, founder of the West Union Recreational Complex. Within a few days I got the green light to proceed. So with Bruce's blessing, the ball was officially rolling!
My first thought was to put on a music benefit (or maybe two or three) to raise the funds for whatever type of monument we would eventually decide upon. I soon realized that it would take an ongoing effort, and not any single fundraiser was going to raise all the necessary funds.
So the first thing I did was put together an online campaign using the popular crowdfunding site "Indiegogo." For this campaign I decided to make a short, biographical video on Tom's life and use it as the Indiegogo centerpiece (click here to view.) Once this site was up and linked to memorybrothers.com, the word spread like wildfire through all the Memory Brothers' friends and fans.
Next I opened the REMEMBERING TOMMY account at the Kerndt Brothers Savings Bank in West Union, Iowa. Here we could accumulate funds raised by the Indiegogo campaign and also various fundraisers and direct donations.
I scheduled an event at Nob Hill Ballroom in Decorah, Iowa on March 27, 2013 and lined up a bunch of the Memory Brothers (as well as some special guests) for the first of several fundraisers. This benefit drew a standing-room-only crowd and raised a big chunk of money to kick-start our series of live music benefits for the Tommy Stahr memorial (see pictures.)
Kent Moore - a musician from Elgin, Iowa - then organized the second music benefit which was held on Saturday, June 29, 2013 at the Hawkeye Community Center in Hawkeye, Iowa featuring three bands: Windfall Jac; Crystal Axe and Challenger. All proceeds then went into the Kerndt Brothers bank account (see "UPDATE" below.)
Since there are so many facets to this ongoing campaign, I decided to put together this web page where anyone who is interested can go to get an overview of the project. Here you will be able to conveniently view our progress and link to all the relevant aspects of the REMEMBERING TOMMY campaign.
I appreciate everyone's generosity and continued support! Thanks!
--- Doug Koempel, July 17, 2013.
* * * UPDATES
The 2nd "Remembering Tommy" benefit held on Saturday, June 29, 2013 at the Hawkeye Community Center in Hawkeye, Iowa was a tremendous success by raising just under $4,000 in one evening! (When the t-shirt proceeds are factored in, it will break the $4,000 level.)
Three bands (WINDFALL JAC, CHALLENGER and CRYSTAL AXE) wowed the crowd into the wee hours of the morning - playing hard-edged Rock 'n Roll (just the kind of music Tommy loved to play!)
A big thank you to all involved - everyone donated their time and talents. And a special acknowledgement goes out to Kent Moore who masterfully organized and orchestrated this event. We are all grateful to him for all the time and hard work he put in to make this benefit an unprecedented success!
For those of you on Facebook, click here for photos of this event.
* * *
Chris Bennett (the sculptor) was up here today (12/11/15) and finished installing Tommy's memorial. As you know, from concept to fundraising to design/creation/installation, it's been a long road; but it's now finished - a wonderful tribute to Tommy.
Chris suggested some landscaping and mulch - ten to twelve feet encircling the monument. I think that would be a nice touch. I'm sure there may be some additional suggestions (Hmmmm . .. doesn't Steve Stahr do landscaping??!!)
I want to personally thank Chris for all his hard work and attention to detail. And also we appreciate the Rec Center's overseer Norm Einck for his invaluable help and cooperation.
I want to thank everyone involved as this project went from inception to fruition. (If I were to start listing names, I'm sure I'd unwittingly omit someone.) Suffice it to say, I'm very grateful to all those who donated time, money, materials and specific expertise to help make Tommy's memorial a reality!
And a really big "thank you" to the Stahr family for their cooperation and patience during this lengthy process.
* * *
On July 28 and 29, 2016 Tammy Glass and I did some landscaping around Tommy's memorial. Actually Tammy was the brains and the brawn while my contribution was negligible. A 15-minute video of the two-day project attests to that! Click here to view.
And we'd like to acknowledge our friend and park manager, Norm Einck, who has been very accommodating and has provided some excellent suggestions regarding the landscaping. Thanks Norm!
And click here to see the first video of Tommy's memorial.
The Tommy Stahr Memorial shortly after its installation on Friday, December 11, 2015
at its permanent home at the Recreational Center in West Union, Iowa.
To view videos of the monument and landscaping, click below.