The Rip Post                                     Sherm's Page

Shermy and Charlie Brown and Snoopy from an early 50's strip.

 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

Moonlight Sonata--Beethoven

Violin Concerto--Mendelssohn

9th Symphony---Beethoven

The Messiah---Handel


Tristan and Isolde--Wagner.

"P.S. It's tough leaving out Verdi, Puccini, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Liszt, Brahms,etc., but tell me where you disagree?"
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 divorce."

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 world."

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 personal.

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 battalion.

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, choir.

1951-52: Arlington, Minnesota---Taught junior high chorus and social studies.

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 District.


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 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,
Michael Sachs

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 or threats.

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 want.

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


2007 Rip Rense. All rights reserved.