As I progress through my research on William E. Dimorier (known as Demmy), the Erie educator without whom Ainsworth Field, Veterans Memorial Stadium, District-10 sports, and Academy High School’s music programs would not have been the same, I pause and wish to share something with you.
Today, while transcribing a note Dimorier wrote from his hometown of Afton, NY, to Superintendent C. Herman Grose around 1949, I was moved by the following passage:As you perhaps know that the choir first existed in my humble brain, so called, I shall never forget it. At this time each year I still long to get back but time says, “No.” I hope the choir exists in heaven & that I may be appointed to manage it & take it to the various stars for concerts. Have I overdone this grand statement? Am I foolish in thinking as I do about it?
When Dimorier wrote this note, he had been retired for nearly a decade, and yet, he was still lending advice about the condition of the Academy Singers, a nationally known choir at the time. After offering his opinion on the direction of the choir, Dimorier closed his communication with the above paragraph, hoping there’d be choir in heaven. He would find out for himself just a couple of years later.
In the same note to the superintendent, he states that he had been the one to recommend Morten J. Luvaas and Obed L. (Pop) Grender, the first and second choir directors at Academy High School, who led the Academy Singers to national renown. Through my research, I have verified this fact. In addition, Dimorier acted as business manager and travel agent for the choir as they sang their way from the New York World’s Fair to Washington, DC, where they performed on a national radio broadcast.
On days like today, when I can imagine how Dimorier must have been feeling, I am eager to complete his biography, so that many people can meet this man, who was so well-known long ago, but is largely forgotten now. Then perhaps, he can be rightfully recognized for his contributions. This did not happen as it should have when he retired. The cause was likely the unfortunate timing of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s 1939 change in compulsory retirement age. The bill caused an abrupt end to his career instead of a leisurely stroll to a proper goodbye. Nevertheless, after retirement, Dimorier could be seen in the building, still arranging the choir’s affairs.
This decade-long project is moving along, and I hope to complete it within the next year. Then, once Demmy’s story is told, I am hopeful we can give him a proper tribute and lasting memorial. His role with the Erie School District and the entire region was a true vocation and has left a legacy that should be properly acknowledged.