Luman John Colton, age 100 years, of Cedar Rapids, IA, passed away on Thursday, January 20, 2022. A Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, February 19, 2022, at 10:30 AM at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Cedar Rapids, IA, with public visitation one hour prior to the service. Interment will be at Cedar Memorial Park Mausoleum.
Born January 2, 1922, in Genoa, IL, he was the son of Luman Wesley and Myrtle (Pratt) Colton. Luman graduated from Kirkland, IL High School in 1939. Following high school he attended Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, IA, studying trombone until he was drafted into the US Army in his senior year. Following basic training at Ft. Knox, KY, he was retained there as an instructor in clerical school for one year. He was shipped to Omaha Beach two months after the D-Day invasion. His active-duty assignment was as a clerk-typist for the occupational forces in Paris for a year. Shortly after VE Day in 1945 he was transferred to a London office, and was discharged from the Army in May, 1946.
Throughout his life, Luman felt that travel and experiences away from home were important. He saw many sights and attended concerts in Paris while he was there. While in his London assignment, he took many weekend trips by train to other parts of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. He studied trombone with the first chair trombonist of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Luman married Ahlene Mae Hopkins on June 9, 1946. They had three children: Steven, Laura and Susan. Ahlene passed on after a prolonged respiratory illness in 1985. He was blessed to marry again, this time to Sharon Faye Bakker, a long-time family friend, on February 7, 1988. They remained happily together until his death.
He served as a teacher and band master in Iowa public schools for 40 years. His first position was at Postville, IA in fall of 1946. There he taught band, choir and freshman English for four years. In keeping with his love for travel, Luman and Ahlene and their growing family spent four summers at Northwestern University where he obtained a Master of Music Degree. He taught band at Denison, IA from 1950 to 1957. They then moved to Cedar Rapids where he taught band from 1957 to 1965 at Roosevelt Jr. High School and feeder elementary schools, 1965 to 1979 at Jefferson High School, and finished at Wilson Jr. High School and feeder elementary schools from 1979 to 1986. Throughout his time in the Cedar Rapids Community School District, Luman spent summers with the Cedar Rapids Municipal band playing trombone, French horn and bass drum, serving as the band librarian and on the board of directors. During those same summers, he travelled with his family throughout the United States, visiting relatives and landmarks from coast to coast while camping the whole way.
In retirement he attended a University of Wisconsin extension course in piano tuning and repair. He did piano tuning and some substitute teaching for instrumental music teachers. He was the coordinator of the Cedar Rapids All-City Music Contest from 1988 to 1999. The Cedar Rapids Community School District named the contest the “Luman Colton Solo Competition for Instrumentalists” in his honor in 2003. His travels continued, including a trip to France with wife Sharon to see how Paris had changed since his time there in 1945. He and Sharon drove to New England every fall to visit family and view the changing leaves. He also found time to continue playing tennis and moved to a new home where he could raise a huge vegetable garden.
He played trombone in the eastern Iowa Brass Band for two years and played trombone in The Stardusters dance band for a few years. He played French horn, trombone, bass drum and bass clarinet in the New Horizons Band from 2002 until March 2020, the beginning of the COVID shutdown.
Luman was awarded the Iowa Bandmasters Association’s Karl King Distinguished Service Award in 1984, and again as a retiree in 1998. His legacy was evident when his son Steve, also a band leader, won the same award in 2005. In 2011, Luman was selected by the Honor Flight Network to fly to Washington DC and be recognized for his service in World War II. Luman’s love for family and the music legacy he left will continue to inspire, encourage and reward all who were lucky enough to know him.
Luman was preceded in death by his parents, sister Marjorie of Wilmington, DE, brother Richard of Rockford, IL, and son Steven of Marion, IA. He is survived by his wife, Sharon Faye, who cared for him at home until the day before his death, daughters Laura Coppock of Raymond, NH, Susan Rivedal of Denver, CO, 16 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.
Donations in memoriam can be made to the Jefferson High School Band Program or Westminster Presbyterian Church.