The Music Man's Milestone

DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - He's been a musical fixture at St. Norbert College, and in the community, for nearly 60 years.

Dudley Birder
Dudley Birder (photo provided)

Known by many as "The Music Man," Dudley Birder made a major announcement today as he celebrated a personal milestone.

It's only fitting Birder celebrated his 90th birthday inside the hall that bears his name at St. Norbert College.

"With the possible, and I say possible exception of our founder Abbot Pennings, no single individual has done more to advance the name, the identity, the reputation and the prestige of St. Norbert College than Dudley Birder, by a long shot," said St. Norbert College President Thomas Kunkel to a crowd gathered inside the hall.

"St. Norbert College has meant everything to me," says Birder.

After arriving on campus in 1958 to teach music, Birder founded Summer Music Theatre in 1962.

"Building the sets, hanging the lights, directing, choreography, I was all a one man show because I had no help, it was the first time," recalls Birder.

Since that summer, Birder has served as producer and director in all 75 musicals, with more than 800 performers entertaining a total of 500,000 people.

"Thank you Mr. B on behalf of all the students that you have worked with, thank you as a mentor and great friend," said longtime music theatre performer Parker Drew.

"What a great thing to be able to get up everyday and love going to work, and still going to work," add Alicia Birder, Birder's daughter and longtime music theatre performer.

Today, Birder announced this summer will be his last overseeing Music Theatre, which is why many of his former performers from around the country will return for a special performance.

Birder though, will continue leading the Dudley Birder Chorale, which he founded in 1974.

Just a new chapter in a legendary, and still ongoing, career.

"Without all of my performers, all my friends and all the people that are interested in the things I was organizing I would be nothing, so I'm indebted to all of you and life is good," says Birder.