Thomas Norman Tyra

Thomas Norman Tyra

Cicero, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Death 7 Jul 1995 (aged 62)
Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, USA
Burial Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, Michigan, USA
Plot 6 Park Lot 34 D.
Memorial ID 8799495 · View Source
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Thomas Tyra (born Thomas Norman Tyrakowski) was an American composer, arranger, bandmaster, and music educator.

He was born and raised in Cicero, Illinois. The only child of a working-class immigrant family, he graduated from the J. S. Morton High School (Cicero), Northwestern University (Evanston) and the United States Navy School of Music (Washington, DC) where he would refine his composition and arranging skills while fulfilling his military service. Tyra would later receive his Ph.D from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor).

In 1958 following completion of his military service, Louisiana State University recruited Tyra to serve as Assistant Director of Bands. In 1959, he was promoted to become the 14th Bandmaster of the LSU Tiger Marching Band, making him at age 26 the nation's youngest director of a major university marching band. Tyra's 1959 introduction of the LSU Ballet Corps launched the beginnings of the LSU Golden Girls Dance Squad.

In 1964, Tom became Director of Bands at Eastern Michigan University. From 1977 to 1985, he headed the Department of Music at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina, strengthening its Music Education curriculum and planting the seeds of growth for its instrumental performance programs. From 1985 to 1989, he served as Professor and Dean of the Crane School of Music at SUNY-Potsdam.

Tyra wrote numerous compositions and arrangements for symphonic bands, marching bands and brass ensembles. For EMU, Tyra composed Eastern Variants, the music and lyrics for Go Green! and the musical break strain for the Huron (now Eagle) Fight Song.

In 1953 while an undergraduate music major at Northwestern, Tyra crafted the English language lyrics for their then newly revised Alma Mater. Tyra's words (... Hail to purple, Hail to white, Hail to thee Northwestern ...) remain an integral part of Northwestern University tradition today.

In 1955, Tyra married Northwestern classmate Suzanne Jocelyn Sheldon of Chico, California. Together they had six children before divorcing in 1972. Married four times, he was preceeded in death by his wife from a later marriage, Judith Ann Hastings Carpenter (1942-1987) of Pittsburg, Kansas and Cullowhee, North Carolina.

Tyra died on July 7, 1995 of complications arising from leukemia at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. His remains were interred in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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  • Created by: Anonymous
  • Added: 19 May 2004
  • Find A Grave Memorial 8799495
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  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Thomas Norman Tyra (17 Apr 1933–7 Jul 1995), Find A Grave Memorial no. 8799495, citing Forest Hill Cemetery, Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, Michigan, USA ; Maintained by Anonymous (contributor 46617900) .