R.H. “Sev” Severance BOTY Award Winners – West Towns Barbershopper of the Year
ABE (Award for Barbershop Excellence) is the District’s highest award and recognizes exceptional lifetime achievement and service by outstanding members of the Illinois District
The Ed Wilson Memorial Award is presented at the Fall Convention to the Illinois District quartet that has contributed most to the advancement of the District by selfless service.
Is there anyone who has been in the society for more than a few years who doesn’t know or hasn’t at least seen Jim Foley? Jim became a member in 1953 and pursued his love of music with great fervor. In 1956 he began his hobby of collecting medals. He was an International Chorus Champion with the Michigan City Chorus and an International Quartet Medalist with the “Four Renegades”.
- 1965 he garnered the International Quartet Championship with the “Four Renegades”.
- 1967 he became the President of the Association of International Champions (AIC)
- 1970 The “Four Renegades” were the recipients of the Ed Wilson Memorial Award.
- 1973 Jim was in a new quartet and became the District Quartet Champs with “Saturdays Heroes”.
- 1982 Once again Jim became a District Quartet Champ, this time as one of the “Benchmarks”.
- 1990 By this time, Jim was eligible for the “seniors” competition and as a member of “Old Kids on the Block” became the Int’l Seniors Quartet Champion.
- 1994 Not content with one “senior” medal, Jim once again won the Int’l Seniors Quartet Champion medal, this time as part of the “New and Improved Industrial Strength Mini Chorus”.
- 1999 “Tri-County Reclamation Project” became Int’l Seniors Quartet Champions with Jim.
- 2000 Ed Wilson Memorial Award was given to “Tri-County Reclamation Project” and in addition, Jim was awarded the QCA Music Man Award.
Frank Connell is an example of a true barbershopper, a man who not only loves to sing but has been willing to step up and lend a hand to whatever is needed to help his chapter and the society. He has served as a chapter secretary, as a treasurer, a show chairman, convention chairman, chairman of a director search committee, chapter board member at large and even as an area counselor. Not only that, he has been awarded the “Barbershopper of the Year” and in 1990 he was received the Metro Division “Barbershopper of the Year” award.
Frank first joined the society as a member of the North Shore Chapter in 1952, then joined West Towns in 1959. He also sang in two different quartets – the “Westuners” and the “Suburbanaires”. His importance to West Towns is probably best shown by his serving as the chapter president in 1963, 1979, 1983, 1985, 1995. He is often sought out for his wisdom and sage advice.
Bill Everitt joined West Towns in 1958 and within six years became the chapter president. Bill served West Towns as chapter treasurer and did the same for the Illinois district. From 1973 – 1974 he served as the president of the Illinois district and in 1975 he became an International Board Member. In 1976 he was awarded the district “ABE” award (Award for Barbershop Excellence). Bill remained active with West Towns and earned a chorus gold medal with them at Hartford, 1987 – but in spite of all his awards, he can be remembered as a quiet and friendly barbershopper.
Warren “Buzz” Haeger
It’s hard to exaggerate Buzz Haeger’s impact on the society. He has been a director, an arranger, a coach and a certified judge, and when he wasn’t doing those things or singing in a quartet, he played his saxophone in jazz bands. Barbershoppers know him as a man who knows thousands of tags and and who cannot resist teaching them. In 1954 his quartet the “Four Tissimos” became district champs. He moved on to a new quartet, the “Four Renegades,” who became district champs in 1957 and International Quartet Champions in 1965, winning by a point margin never equaled in International competition. In 1970 that same quartet won the Ed Wilson Memorial Award. In 1992 Buzz won the QCA Music Man Award and in 1999 he won the Illinois district ABE award. In September of 2005, Buzz was featured on a WTTW television special about barbershopping. Buzz Haeger is always promoting barbershopping and trying to find ways to encourage new members so he recently initiated the “Rookie of the Year” award for our chapter. Buzz passed away in November 2007.
Ernie came to West Towns in 1959 from the Madison, Wisconsin chapter through which he had become a member of the society in 1948. Ernie served the chapter and society in many ways – as chapter board member, Membership Vice President and even as director of the Chapel Chorus. Ernie served as an assistant chorus director from 1962 through 1965. He was in several quartets: the “Unitones”, “Four Old Times Sake”, “Retreads” and last, but not least, the “Pitch Pipe Packin’ Papas”. He is also a member of AHSOW (Ancient Harmonious Society of Wood-Shedders). In 1982 Ernie was West Towns Barbershopper of the Year (BOTY). 1998-1999 found Ernie as the President of AHSOW. In 1999 the “Pitch Pipe Packin’ Papas” received the Ed Wilson Memorial Award.
Bob Squires joined West Towns in 1964 and has been an active leader and well-known barbershopper throughout the society. He has served as a chapter board member, section leader, show chairman, bulletin editor, presentation coach, certified presentation judge, assistant director, director, and of course, a quartet man. That level of involvement earned him West Town’s Barbershopper of the Year. Bob served as the Illinois district bulletin editor from 1982 – 1985. In 1986 he received the Illinois District ABE award and in 1998 the QCA Music Man Award. He has served as the Illinois District VP of Contest & Judging and from 1999 – 2001 he served as the Illinois District President. He has been director of the Joliet and Aurora choruses. He joined the ranks of the senior quartet champs, singing in “New and Improved Industrial Strength Mini-chorus” (1994) and “Tri-County Reclamation Project” (1999). In 2000, “Tri-County Reclamation Project” received the Ed Wilson Memorial Award.
In 1948 Len was one of small group of men who formed the Lombard Chapter and the West Towns Chorus. Through the years he has served faithfully as chorus manager, board member, uniform chariman, show chariman and CABC delegate. At the time of his induction into this Hall of Fame (2005), he was the only active charter member of West Towns. In recent years he has been portrayed Santa on our annual Christmas shows.
Rick joined West Towns in 1974 where the sound of his sweet, crystal clear tenor voice was heard in many quartets. He served as the chapter Music VP and tenor section leader in West Towns. Rick’s run with quartet championships began in 1980 with “Friends”, in 1990 with “Classic Ring”, 1998 with Bravo and in 2003 with Alchemy. He has also been a three time International Senior Quartet Medalist and in 2004 sang with the senior quartet “Savoir Four”.
Charles “Chuck” Snyder
Chuck was a charter member of West Towns, helping the chapter get started in 1948. As one of the founding members, he was also the first secretary and first bulletin editor for West Towns. He sang tenor in the first chapter quartet – the “Lombardians”. In addition to serving as chapter president, from 1955-1957 he served as the Illinois District President. He served as an International Board Member, then from 1962 through 1967 he became a staff member at International Headquarters. In 1967 he joined the San Antonio (Texas) Chordsmen.
Wayne “Doc” Ruggles
Doc Ruggles joined the society in 1944 when he joined the Wheaton Chapter. Doc’s musical talents were apparent early on and when he attended Purdue University he sang with “The Varsity Four,” a quartet that finished in fifth place in the 1949 International competition. In 1952 he joined the Oak Park chapter and in the same year his quartet, “Kord Kings” became Illinois District Quartet champions. The “Kord Kings” went on to become International Quartet finalists from 1955 to 1958. In 1957 Doc became director of West Towns and in 1960 led West Towns to the district championship. He then directed West Towns to a fifth place finish in International.
Earle Auge (pronounced Oh – jhay) was a musician and educator and director of choral music at Niles East Township High School. Earle was the director of the Arlingtones when they were district champs from 1963 to 1965. He was also the bass of a quartet called the Imperial Four. In 1968 he joined West Towns as director, subsequently leading the chorus to district championships in 1969, 1970 and 1971. In 1971 he moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming where he still resides. In spite of that, he maintains his membership with the West Towns Chorus.
Dr. Greg Lyne
Greg Lyne, a barbershopper since 1962, earned his bachelor of music degree in music education from Washburn University, a master of science in composition from Kansas State University, and a doctor of arts in conducting from the University of Northern Colorado. He is a life member of the American Choral Directors Association and holds memberships in the National Association for Music Education, the College Music Society and other professional music organizations.
In July of 1981, while serving as the Director of Choral Music at DePaul University, he became director of West Towns and led them to the District Championship only three months later in September. That District Championship was the first of six consecutive district titles and six straight international medals.
In July 1987 he directed West Towns to their gold medal at the International contest in Hartford Connecticut. In July of 1988 he moved to California but still directed West Towns at the Society’s 50 th Anniversary in San Antonio Texas.
He has since directed the Masters of Harmony to three International Championships, has served as Director of Music Education and Services for the Barbershop Harmony Society and continues as a music educator around the world for all types of music. He is also an arranger and composer.
His quartet experiences include the semi-finalist Lion’s Share, quartet finalist Personal Touch, and as a replacement baritone for the Dealer’s Choice.
Burt Keever began his barbershopping in Onarga, Illinois in 1952 where, being involved in a quartet, he needed to organize a group to sing for a Lions Club event. He rounded up 21 people to sing and since they were using SPEBSQSA arrangements, a new barbershop group was begun. Since those days so many years ago, Burt has been in four chapters: South Cook, Chesterton, Aurora and of course, West Towns. Burt’s fun with barbershopping helped encourage his brother Ken to join ten years later and then his son Mark to join the society to sing with him at age 11 in the South Cook chapter. Burt has been an active member of West Towns and lent his talents throughout his years with the chapter. In his own words, he’s had so much fun in barbershopping throughout the years and appreciates everything all the men he’s known because of his involvement with it.
Ron Heilig was introduced to barbershopping when he went to a West Towns performance in Crystal Lake. After the performance Barth Richards and his wife Mary Jo asked him to join them and then Rick Anthoney joined the group. That was the beginning of a long, wonderful barbershop relationship. Ron is a highly energetic, focused individual and committed to this hobby in many ways. When Ron joined in 1975 at about age 48, Russ Foris was director and Dick Johnson after him. Ron served on the board three times as a member-at-large. He ran two steak fries, and took charge of one spring show. Since lighting was his field, he created a lighted “Broadway” marquis that was used in a competition set.
Ron also helped with the regular, weekly chores. With rare exception he would be the first one to get the risers out of the trailer, get them up 9 steps into the VFW rehearsal hall (Lombard) – and was always there to break them back down. A conservative estimate is that he did that 1,210 times. Ron has an attendance record that is hard to beat. He was always there, on time, to do the work.
Ron competed in 15 International competitions, attended 25 Internationals and has a gold medal from 1987. He also had the privilege of singing with the chorus on our farewell song in San Antonio (1988). In addition to having earned a chorus gold medal, he was also awarded the West Towns “Barbershopper of the Year” in 1987, another significant accolade.