Richard “Dick” Maki played the baritone horn, and he played it well, marching in drum and bugle corps for most of his life.
The Ely native was even inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame.
So it’s fitting that memorials to the Minnesota Brass Drum and Bugle Corps were preferred at his funeral over flowers. Maki, of Shoreview, died of a lung ailment on May 12, just short of his 83rd birthday.
As a child in Ely, Maki was introduced to music through the piano, taking lessons at the behest of his mother. He never lost the ability to play the keyboards, but in high school his attention turned to marching band.
“Piano was a good foundation for him, but he was really a brass and drums guy,” said Richard “Benny” Thompson, a lifelong friend who grew up with Maki in Ely and is a longtime drum and bugle corps player himself.
Maki was a percussionist at first, playing not only for his school but also for Ely’s municipal marching band.
In 1954, the Chisholm American Legion’s drum and bugle corps was looking for brass players, so Maki taught himself to play the baritone, Thompson said.
The low-pitched horn, called simply a baritone in marching band circles, would become Maki’s staple instrument.
“But he could play any horn,” said Margaret “Bunny” Maki, Dick’s wife of 53 years.
Dick Maki graduated from what is now St. Cloud State University and then worked for many years as a teacher.
His main subject was business, and he was a full-time teacher in the St. Paul Public Schools from 1965 to 2000, with the last portion of his career at Harding High School. He served as a substitute teacher for a few years after retiring.
Maki was in drum and bugle corps for more than 60 years, particularly Minnesota Brass and the Zuhrah Shrine band.
“He just loved it,” Margaret said. “It was the center of his life.”
Margaret and Dick moved to the Twin Cities in the late 1950s, and Dick began playing in an American Legion marching band with a Spanish inflection called the Toreadors.
That band evolved into what would become, by 1980, Minnesota Brass.
Minnesota Brass today operates several performing ensembles, including the state’s foremost drum and bugle corps. Members march in parades and compete in field matches with other drum and bugle corps, both in the Midwest and nationally.
“I consider [Maki] one of our founding fathers,” said Gavin Burnham, president of Minnesota Brass.
Even after Maki retired from the rigors of marching in Minnesota Brass, he followed the band.
“At age 80-plus, he’d come to rehearsals and enjoyed watching as a proud alumni,” Burnham said. “He’d drive down to Mankato or Rochester to watch us perform.”
Maki also enjoyed singing in church, and he was a member of the choir for a time at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Roseville.
He also liked schnauzers, from miniature to giant versions of the dog. “We’ve never not had a schnauzer,” Margaret said.
And Maki was a big Vikings fan, holding season tickets for 50 years.
Aside from his wife, Maki is survived by two children, Richard T. Maki and Sara Marcatto; two grandchildren, and two nephews. Services were held Saturday, and “For All We Know,” the 1930s-vintage theme song for Minnesota Brass, was slated to be played.