Shermy and Charlie Brown and Snoopy from an early 50's strip.
ARE YOU AN
F.O.S.? (FRIEND OF SHERM?)
Did you have Mr. Plepler for a music teacher?
Drop a line with your recollections and we'll print it below.
Shermy the shepherd in "A Charlie Brown Christmas."
||Sherman Plepler's Top
Ten Desert Island Music Picks:
"While admitting as a romanticist musically
speaking, I began thinking as to what I'd advise a person with a
limited income to buy, and this is my short list. . ."
September Song--Kurt Weill
Clair de Lune--Debussy
Tristan and Isolde--Wagner.
"P.S. It's tough leaving out Verdi,
Puccini, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Liszt, Brahms,etc., but tell me where
|Sherm on his lifelong friend,
Charles "Sparky" Schulz:
"We were the closest of friends as we considered ourselves as
loners, outside of a few other neighborhood kids. . . As adults,
even though we were only together once or twice a year because of
distance between us, I was told that I was one of few that he would
speak with when called, regardless of drawing, etc. We basically
would do anything possible to help each other whenever needed. He
was very concerned for us at one time when having a problem with a
child, and I felt that I was also helpful to him after a difficult
And the enduring power of "Peanuts":
"I find it truly amazing that his strip seems as popular
today as when he died. He'll soon have an important
family-authorized book published on his life, as well as a PBS
'American Masters' program in 2007. Few people may realize how
important he has always been in Japan as well as the rest of the
And the state of the world:
"It would seem as if the last election shows that the
majority of us are not pleased with the direction of our country in
the last six years. While serving in WWII, I'm sure that most
veterans thought as I did that we had fought a war to end all wars,
but history shows that it was not the case."
|Ann Markin, longtime
fellow music teacher, on Sherman:
He had a career built on talent, discipline,
and hard work. A musician's musician, a teacher's teacher. He
brought to teaching a a wide musical experience and a dedication to
his work. His musical judgment was sought after, as were his
creative solutions to problems, whether they were school-related or
At his rehearsals and at programs, he had a unique way of
balancing the dignified with the casual, as he communicated with the
students and with the audience. Always innovative, he sometimes
presented a different kind of school orchestra concert when he tried
to combine students with parents. That is, he encouraged the parents
who played instruments to sit in the orchestra with their children
and play along with them during the concert!
He was kind, caring, and a compassionate teacher, never
resorting to sarcasm. Yet he held his students to the highest
standards. His elementary school orchestra students gained the
understanding, discipline, and musical foundation which prepared
them to perform confidently in orchestras as they progressed to
greater levels of achievement.
Some former students are now professional musicians holding
prominent positions in leading orchestras and chamber groups. One is
Michael Sachs, first chair trumpet with the Cleveland Orchestra. It
was Sherm who encouraged him to continue his musical studies when he
had doubts and wanted to quit. Composer John Williams wrote a
trumpet concerto, dedicating it to Michael, saying the he was the
musician most capable of performing it.
In 2004, Sherman and his team teacher, Darrell Mittler, were
honored as "Stairway to the Stars" award recipients in recognition
of time, effort, and many contributions on behalf of thousands of
young musicians in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.
Sherm's sense of humor is legendary, which has always made him a
delight as a teacher and friend.
Early years: Began performing at Lake McDonald Hotel as a junior in
high school during summer, and was in charge of hiring for all
Glacier Park, Montana music groups for eleven years.
1943-44: Enlisted in the army, served with a heavy weapons
Graduated with degree in music from St. Thomas College, St. Paul
(affiliated with Minneapolis College of Music.)
1946-'48: Russell, Montana---Taught band, chorus, and was
high school basketball coach.
1949-51: Foley, Montana---Taught high school band, chorus,
1951-52: Arlington, Minnesota---Taught junior high chorus and
1952-53: Violinist with Teddy Phillips Big Band at the Aragon
Ballroom in Chicago. Toured Hilton Hotels with Jerry Glidden.
1952-61: Taught high school music and conducted orchestra at
Greenway High in Coleraine, Minnesota, acted as assistant hockey
coach and assistant football coach at Itaska Jr. College.
1961-63: Wisconsin State College---in charge of music majors
doing student teaching.
1960-'63: Violinist with the Duluth Symphony Orchestra.
1963-93: Music teacher, Santa Monica-Malibu Union School
|FRIENDS OF SHERM:
Principal Trumpet, The Cleveland Orchestra
Mr. Plepler was the first orchestra conductor
that I ever played under. Growing up in Santa Monica in
the early 70's, the music education in the schools there was
outstanding with Sherm leading the way. Every year the
culminating moment was the "Stairway of the Stars" concert in
the spring in front a packed house at the Santa Monica Civic. I
got to play in the elementary group under Sherm starting in 5th
grade. He was always so incredibly supportive and encouraging to
all of us. The experience playing in that group was terrific and
a big boost to my confidence....in many ways it really set me on
the path I've been on since. Throughout the years it's been so
wonderful to see Sherm periodically when I'm back visiting in
Santa Monica and as years go by I appreciate more and more the
guidance he gave me as a beginning player....
With warmest regards,
Mr. Plepler was my orchestra director in junior high
at Greenway. Althoough I was not, by any stretch of the
imagination, an outstanding clarinet player, he instilled in me
a love of music, which has stayed with me all of my life. I
always enjoyed seeing the character Shermy in the Peanuts comic
strip, and when I found out that my grandson was going to play
that character in his school's version of A Charlie Brown
Christmas, I was proud to tell him that I had
enjoyed Shermy as a teacher.
I first met Sherm when I was a kid and he came to
teach music at our school, Bovey Junior High in
Bovey, Minnesota. I took violin lessons
from him and somehow I always had the idea I was his favorite
student (sure could've been wrong about that) and he definitely
was my favorite teacher. Later on, when we were in his
orchestra, even though my friend Lowell (solo violin) and I
(first violin) were a big pain in the ass, giggling and poking
each other with our bows (Sherm would say "LOIS and LOWELL!"),
we'd stop and shape up for a time. We were never, ever afraid of
him---he just got people to act right without any kind of fear
He did amuse me, but I didn't realize it until many years
later when I was married to a Jewish man and found out what
their humor was all about. (He has) a slight pressing of the
lips with a slight turn-up in one corner, eyes turned a little
to the side, after delivering something laser-funny and so
subtle it sailed right over some dork's head so he didn't even
know he'd been hit.
As for inspiration, yeah, just the way he treated people and
lived his own life was an inspiration to everyone. He was always
kind and friendly and everybody totally loved him. Of all the
friends I have, there's no one I love more than Sherm. He did
inspire me with one line I remember even now from time to time -
he said, "If you want something done, ask the busiest person".
I've always found that to be true, a lot of the time because I
was the busiest person!
We went our separate ways, of course, after I graduated from
high school and went away to work and college. But - I
married Sid Shear (may he rest, etc.) and one time we were
driving back from Chicago to Minneapolis and I fell asleep in
the car and had a small dream about Sherm Plepler. Say what? But
it woke me up because he'd been standing in front of me kind of
bent over, holding his chest, and I interpreted it to mean he
had a heart problem. Well, I had to find out about that! I
remembered that he said he'd grown up with Charles Schulz in St.
Paul, so I somehow found his address and wrote to him and asked
him how I could contact Sherm. By return mail I got his address
and phone number, and the rest is history. We were reunited.
To shorten a boring and superfluous story, I went to L.A. and had
to find a place to live and a job. Sherm and his wife took me in
and put up with me for the longest time. Now I don't know how
they did it, an extra person in the house all the time, funny
cooking for a vegetarian, etc., but they did and treated me
exactly like a member of the family. Sherm drove me all around
to find an apartment, and we ended up with one just a couple of
miles or so from their house in Santa Monica, and I had a job
close by too in West L.A. Even though I was living on my own,
then, I still was treated as a family member and invited for
every holiday. His parents were great and I loved them. He was
their only child and didn't seem like either of them. He'd laugh
about them (fondly and with good reason) but always treated them
respectfully. His dad was small and thin and a whiz at
fixing/creating things like lamps and so forth, and his mom was
funny and nice. Every holiday she wanted to bring meatballs as a
contribution to the dinner, and we still laugh about "Mary's
meatballs". My birthday is around Thanksgiving and sometimes
right on that day, and one time we were sitting down eating at
Thanksgiving and Sherm got up. Nobody thought anything of it
until he came back to the table a little too late for it to have
been a bathroom trip, and gave me a birthday card. He'd realized
it was my birthday and gone out to the closest store and got it.
I know that's a small thing, but it wasn't to me. It was just
another indication of the kind of person he is. He always thinks
of other people and how they're doing, what they might need or
Later on I was working at UCLA in the lab/office of one of
the most famous scientists in the world. He was a dear,
sweet, funny man and I loved him absolutely.He was a Snoopy fan
and had pictures tacked up all over the place in the lab. I got
Schulz's address from Sherm and wrote to him and told him about
his admirer, and asked if he might send a signed photo of
Snoopy. Again, by return mail, along came an original drawing
he'd made just for Dr. Sawyer, signed, saying it was just for
him. We put it in a frame and it hung in his office for the
duration of his tenure. So - Dr.Sawyer became one of the bunch
after that, and we had almost a weekly date at the best Mexican
restaurant in town at 2020 Olympic. Well so, as you can see,
Sherm's a chameleon and fits into any situation with anybody -
not just musicians, but fancy scientists and just plain folks
like me. I know for sure everybody we hung around with loved him
as much as the others did when we were kids, and why not? I
don't see how there could ever be a better person than Sherm.
All "Peanuts" strips copyright United Features Syndicate
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