O’Leary honored at benefit concert

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  • Derek Torres playing in the Wildcat Big Band at the Jed O’Leary scholarship benefit concert.

  • Dr. Josh Calkin, director of Wildcat Big Band, bows after the audience was entertained throughly at the Majestic Theatre last Sunday for the Jed ‘O Leary Memorial Concert.

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Lauren Davis, Staff Writer

James “Jed” O’Leary was a man who impacted many people’s lives in a multitude of ways, especially with his talents in music.

That passion for music was celebrated Sunday night at a benefit concert held at the Majestic Theater in Wayne. O’Leary died on March 13 following a traffic accident in Omaha earlier in the week.

A music teacher at the Fremont Middle School and Johnson Crossing, Jed was also an adjunct teacher at Midland University and taught online courses for Wayne State College.

His parents, Jay and Jane O’Leary, have had a huge influence on the Wayne community and surrounding towns following long careers as music teachers at WSC.

Jed graduated from Wayne State College in 1994 with a Bachelor of fine arts degree in music education and psychology. He then went on to earn a masters of music degree in woodwind performance from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Doctorate in musical arts from Boston University.

In order to honor Jed and his passion for music, Josh Calkin, the instructor of low brass and assistant director of bands in the WSC music department, wanted to raise money for a music scholarship.

The Sunday evening performance brought in a great crowd from Wayne and surrounding cities, including Sioux City and Fremont.

“It was an emotional night for a lot of us because we were essentially there to remember a man who was our friend and family,” Calkin said.

The goal for the scholarship is to raise $10,000. Before the evening of the concert, there had already been donations in the mail for $3,000, and by the night’s end, an additional $3,000 was donated.

The concert was free, and people who wanted to donate could. Between 150-200 people attended the concert.

The Wildcat Big Band performed, along with the Northeast Area Jazz Ensemble and the Crazy 8 Brass Band. Wayne States Kappa Kappa Psi and NAfME (National Association for Music Education) raised money in order to supply food, which was provided by Miss Molly’s Coffee Shop.

“The concert really showed the impact that a great teacher can have on people,” Calkin said.

The concert was a great success, and the music allowed people to come together and remember a wonderful person and raise money for a great cause.

“Our department is more of a family than anything else,” Calkin said.

The O’Learys will always be considered “family” and a huge part of Wayne State College and the music department, according to Calkin.