Mr. Torkelson passed away

Larry Torkelson was an inspiration and a motivator. His passion for life and music was contagious.

From 1987 - 1991, I was a member of the USD Chamber Singers, USD Men’s and Women’s Chorus, and the University Choir under the direction of Mr. Torkelson... not only was he an amazing teacher / director, he was also an amazing person. Compassionate. Patient. Intentional.

When I think of Mr. Torkelson, I can see him taking over the piano to help us feel a phrase or understand a dynamic. As soon as his fingers hit the keys, his one leg would start swaying to the rhythmn of the music, beautiful tones would emit from his mouth... and there was no mistaking what you needed to do to help deliver.

Today, I am thankful that God put Mr. Torkelson in our lives. I'm saddened by his passing, but comforted knowing the legacy he's left behind for his students and his family will keep his memory alive.

Keith "Larry" Torkelson had great influence on my life, more than he ever knew. And, while we haven't spoken for years, I will miss him.

Press & Dakotan

VERMILLION - Keith "Larry" Torkelson, 67, of Vermillion, died Wednesday, January 23, at his residence after a battle with cancer.

Larry was born May 19, 1940 in his parents' house (Thomas and Edith [Seaman] Torkelson) in Frankfort, South Dakota. As a young man he enjoyed baseball, basketball, track, boating, ice skating and woodworking. In high school he studied jazz piano with Wilda Dorsey. After graduating from Redfield High School in 1958 he toured with the Tommy Allen Orchestra before attending USD as music major.

Working his way through college as an entertainer, he sang and played piano on the weekends and was the first jazz pianist to play at the Westward Ho Country Club in Sioux Falls.

Larry married his college sweetheart Jane Ellen Jensen in 1963 and she became his lifelong partner. A daughter Tracy was born in 1964 after which the family moved to Michigan where Larry taught music at Alpena Community College. In 1967 a son Jeff was born.

In 1969, he pursued Doctoral studies in Choral Conducting at Indiana University. In 1971, he was hired by Jack Noble to be the Choral Director at USD where he inspired vocal, choral, and conducting musicians for 30 years by teaching them to appreciate the beauty of choral masterworks.

After retirement in 2001, he enjoyed teaching for a short time at Mt. Marty College, organizing the Alumni Choir, playing piano and piloting his airplane. He felt very fortunate to have been able to spend quality time with his two grandchildren Taylor and Braeden.

Larry is survived by his wife Jane of Vermillion, a son Jeffrey (Lisa) of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and a daughter Tracy Ferguson of Vermillion, and two grandchildren Taylor and Braeden Ferguson

Funeral services will be 2:00 p.m. Saturday, January 26, at the United Church of Christ in Vermillion with burial in the Bluffview cemetery in Vermillion. Visitation will begin two hours prior to the service at the church.

In lieu of flowers, memorials will be directed to the USD Foundation - Torkelson Scholarship Fund

For online condolences and obituary please go to hansenfuneralhome.com.

Yankton Press & Dakotan
January 25, 2008


Denice said...

Hey Jeanne ~

Thanks for sharing this. I know he'll be missed...

Anonymous said...

I was a freshman when he was a grad student at IU. On Friday nights he played piano and sang, I was the bass player at the "Red Nose Tavern" in Bloomington. With a GREAT jazz piano style and a voice somewhere between Mel Torme and Fran Sinatra, they were some of the best evenings of my playing career. I played for the libation and the fun! He will indeed be missed! W. Dick Luchtman