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Gene Earl Vollen


Gene Earl Vollen passed away on the morning of Sunday, February 11, 2024.

He was born May 29, 1933 to Guy Leroy Vollen and Stella Jamison Vollen in St. Clair County, Michigan. He graduated from Capac (Michigan) High School in 1951 and earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Instrumental Music from Michigan State University in 1955. His primary instruments were euphonium and trombone. After teaching General and Instrumental Music at Kimball Township Schools in Port Huron, Michigan, he served as a musician with the 423rd Army Band at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas from 1956 to 1958. Following his service, he taught Instrumental and Choral Music in the Port Huron Public Schools and Choral Music at Bendle Public Schools in Flint, Michigan until returning to Michigan State to earn a Master of Music degree in Theory and Composition in 1962.

In 1962 he began a Graduate Fellowship at North Texas State University (now University of North Texas) while pursuing a PhD in Musicology. He married fellow music student Linda Hunt in 1964. Together they traveled to teaching appointments at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, and Capitol University in Columbus, Ohio, as well as a year in Paris, France as a Fulbright Scholar where he conducted research for his dissertation (later published as the book The French Cantata). Following a year as a Training Technician for the U. S. Civil Service, he earned his doctorate from UNT in January 1970.

Dr. Vollen joined the faculty of Pittsburg State University in September 1970 as Assistant Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Music. He taught low brass lessons and performed on trombone, euphonium, and horn in addition to his classroom duties teaching music history and theory. He became Chairman of the Department of Music in July 1978, a position he held until his retirement in June 1995. He remained active in the musical community and returned to serve as Interim Chair in 1998-99. He was an active member of the American Musicological Society and served as President of the Treble Clef Club for three years. He also served as a member of the Noon Kiwanis for many years, coordinating musical entertainment for the organization's annual Pancake Day. A man of versatile abilities, he took up the viola to stay active, performing in the SEK Symphony and in quartets and trios until 2020.

He was also a skilled woodworker and craftsman whose projects included building and repairing musical instruments as well as cabinetry and home repair. He learned to tune pianos, became a member of the Piano Technicians Guild, and taught a piano tuning and technology class. He spent decades restoring the 1908 house which the family moved into in 1987. As his skills and knowledge of historical building methods grew, he contributed work to the ballroom ceiling of the Stilwell Hotel during its restoration. Dr. Vollen's legacy lives on in the hearts, memories, and careers of his many students and colleagues who benefited from his quick wit and inquisitive mind, his generosity with his time and knowledge, and the humanity and lifelong love of learning that he modeled.

Gene Vollen was predeceased by parents Guy Leroy Vollen and Stella Jamison Vollen, brother Harry Vollen, and sister Gail Winne.