HAYES MAGUIRE FUHR: A PERSONAL VITA
Born: Lewistown, Illinois, January 25, 1891
Died: Maryville, Tennessee, March 16, 1975
The son of dentist William Fuhr and his wife Mary Maguire, Hayes Fuhr spent all of the years of his "remembered youth" in Macomb, Illinois. Although his delicate health dictated the necessity of home tutoring during the earliest of these years, he was later able to enter the Upper Elementary Grades Training School of the Western Illinois State Teachers College, newly opened in Macomb. Upon finishing the Training School’s course of study and completing Western State’s college preparatory curriculum, Hayes enrolled as a freshman at the State Teachers College.
During his early pre-college years, young Fuhr (whose unchanged soprano voice seems to have been of outstanding quality) was involved in various school and church choirs, as well as in both organ and piano study.
Upon diploma graduation from both the Teachers College and Macomb’s recently established Conservatory of Music, Hayes – now nineteen – began his search for a suitable position, meanwhile continuing to work in the town’s Variety Store – a job he had filled as an "after-school, week-end helper" during his preparatory school years.
When an offer to join the faculty of the fashionable Culver Military Academy as "voice instructor and Glee Club director" came his way in June of 1910, he hastened to accept, remaining on that faculty until a more challenging position at Hastings College was offered to him beginning with the Fall Term of 1912.
Meanwhile, it was during the summer of 1911 that he began the practice of pursuing graduate voice instruction with singers of note in such metropolitan areas as Chicago and New York City. These beneficial and challenging experiences led to his later decision to spend an academic year (1927-28) in Italy and Germany, studying voice and absorbing as much of the rich musical culture of early twentieth-century Europe as time and funds would permit.
Later, having completed work for a Bachelor of Arts degree at Hastings College, a Bachelor of Music degree at the Bush Conservatory, and a Master of Music degree at the University of Nebraska, Professor Fuhr was (in 1947) awarded the degree, Doctor of Music, honoris causa by the University of Denver. Not to be outdone, Hastings College awarded him the honorary degree, Doctor of Laws in 1952. In 1967 he was cited for distinguished cultural service to Nebraska.
In addition to the many College concerts, local festivals, and operatic performances that were presented by him, or under his aegis, Doctor Fuhr played a leading role in local community affairs, both musical and general. As Director of the College Conservatory (later known as the Hastings College Department of Music), he co-sponsored with the Hastings Daily Tribune a number of concerts of the first order, featuring such world renowned artists as Sergei Rachmaninoff, Isaac Stern, Marian Anderson, and Fritz Kreisler.
For forty-eight years, Hayes Fuhr was in charge of the music program at Hastings’ First Presbyterian Church, where he also served for twelve years as an Elder. Active in Masonry, he was also a member of the Executive Club and the Hastings Rotary Club, both of which he served for one or more terms as President.
After the successful publication and distribution of his book, Fundamentals of Choral Expression (University of Nebraska Press, 1944), Doctor Fuhr, now nationally recognized as an outstanding choral conductor and music director, was asked to assume such roles as that of a Vice President of the National Association of Schools of Music and as an Evaluator of the programs of colleges and universities seeking approval from the NASM, MENC, and various other national music accrediting organizations.
Ruth Johnson1, the first member of the Hastings College Music Department hired by Hayes Fuhr upon his 1912 arrival as Department Head, for many years worked closely with him in establishing Hastings College as offering one of the strongest music programs in the Mid-West.
Speaking of Hayes Fuhr’s 1975 passing, Hal Lainson, then President of the College Board of Trustees, summed up Doctor Fuhr’s contributions to the College with these words: "The life of Hayes Fuhr is woven into the permanent and historic fabric of Hastings College, and the College will forever be immeasurably better because of him."
At the time of his death, Doctor Fuhr’s immediate family included a son, Dr. Tom Fuhr, three granddaughters, and one great-grandson. Both Hayes Fuhr and his wife are buried in the Hastings Parkview Cemetery.
1 Ruth Johnson, who died in 1968, remained on the Hastings College faculty for more than a quarter century after her 1913 marriage to Hayes Fuhr.