Orchestra leader Jules Herman was a loyal Moorhead State College alumnus with a sincere personality, Roland Dille, the school's former president, said Tuesday.
Herman, a trumpet player and North Dakota native, toured with Lawrence Welk before leading his own orchestra for 35 years at the Prom Ballroom in St. Paul.
"I always felt so flattered he was so happy to see me," Dille said. "I couldn't dance a step, you see, so that was quite something."
Herman, 93, died Friday of heart failure at his home in Mendota Heights, said his daughter, Bonnie Herman of Chicago.
"He loved music," she said, "and he loved his family."
Funeral services for Herman were held Tuesday.
Herman graduated in 1935 from Moorhead State Teacher's College, as Minnesota State University Moorhead was then known.
In 1954, Herman brought his orchestra to Moorhead to perform at the homecoming dance. He was given the school's Distinguished Alumni Award in 1973.
Dille said he knew Herman since 1968, Dille's first year as president, and the two exchanged Christmas cards.
"He was an awfully great guy," Dille said. "He was just always so pleasant and so happy to see someone. It was not an insincere persona. He really did enjoy people."
Herman grew up on a farm near Milnor, N.D. After getting his degree at Moorhead in the early 1930s, Herman taught music in Gardner, N.D., but quit when Welk, a fellow North Dakotan, asked him to join Welk's orchestra as first trumpet, Bonnie Herman said.
While touring nationally, the Welk orchestra stopped in Pittsburgh in 1938. Welk ran a contest to name his new theme song, "Bubbles in the Wine," and a local singer named Lois Best became Welk's first official Champagne Lady, known for singing bright and bubbly tunes.
Before the year was out, she had married Herman, their daughter said.
The Hermans stayed in Chicago to raise their family when the Welk orchestra finished an engagement there and left for California.
During World War II, Herman played trumpet for the Griff Williams society band at Chicago's famed Palmer House, Herman's daughter said.
Herman later joined Wayne King, the "Waltz King," before forming his own band. The family moved to the Twin Cities in 1950 when Herman accepted an invitation to head the house orchestra at the Prom.
His wife played the Hammond organ and sang in the group, which backed such stars as Pat Boone, Connie Francis and Bobby Darin.
Herman also led the Minnesota Vikings football band for eight years. In 2002, he was inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame.
In addition to his wife and daughter, Bonnie, survivors include two other daughters, Gloria Aberman, of Las Vegas, and Debra Herman, of Mendota Heights; four grandchildren and a brother.