OBITUARY

William J. Laskey

October 3, 1922June 8, 2018

William J. Laskey, age 95, of Crystal Lake, passed away at home on June 8, 2018.

Bill was born to William Jennings and Gertrude Laskey on October 3, 1922, in Chicago. Bill loved music and began playing clarinet and saxophone as a boy. By high school, he was playing big band gigs, eventually performing with Charlie Thornill and Claude Ventura. He served in World War II in the Army Air Corps as a radio operator, stationed in India.

After the war, Bill studied at the Chicago Conservatory of Music, where he met his future wife Joanne. He also studied at Roosevelt University and the University of Illinois, earning a BA in Clarinet Performance and an MA in Music Education. Bill then embarked on a career as a high school band director, teaching for nine years in the small town of Rossville, Illinois. In 1963, Bill and Joanne moved to Crystal Lake where Bill eventually became head of the music department at Crystal Lake Central (Community) High School. During his tenure, he taught beginning band, symphonic band, jazz band, marching band, and music theory and appreciation. He also conducted the pit orchestra for the annual school musical.

In the 1970s, Bill expanded and revamped the Crystal Lake marching band program to include summer competitions. The Heraldry Guard, which included students from both Central and South High Schools, took part in more than a dozen competitions each summer throughout the Midwest. Under Bill’s leadership, the band won numerous competitions and accolades for their marching, innovation, and musicianship. It was ranked among the top 10 marching bands nationally.

Following his retirement from teaching in 1980, Bill became an accomplished photographer, with his work appearing in national magazines and even on billboards. At the age of 79, he took flying lessons and achieved his long-held dream of earning a pilot’s license. He also found time to travel, golf, play bridge, and attend theatre performances. And he remained immersed in music, conducting musicals at the Woodstock Opera House and recording several solo CDs that featured him playing jazz standards on saxophone. In recent years, the Crystal Lake Strikers drumline established the William Laskey scholarship, awarded each year to aspiring percussion students. Bill also was honored to be chosen as the grand marshal for Crystal Lake’s Independence Day Parade (2015).

Bill is survived by his children, Elizabeth (Bruce) Laskey, John (Liz) Laskey, Mary (Grant) Laskey, and James Laskey, as well as his dear companion, Betty Jean Stoltze.

In addition to his parents and sister (Dorothy Smith), Bill was preceded in death by his wife, Joanne, on June 22, 1995. A loving father, uncle, friend, and an inspirational teacher, Bill will be greatly missed.

Visitation will be on June 29 at Querhammer & Flagg Funeral Home, 500 W. Terra Cotta Ave., Crystal Lake, from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM. There will be a memorial service on June 30 at 10:00 AM at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 210 McHenry Ave. Crystal Lake.

For those wishing to send an expression of condolence, the family suggests memorials be sent to Pioneer Center for Human Services, 4031 W. Dayton Street, McHenry, IL 60050.

https://www.pioneercenter.org/support/make-a-donation-today/

  • FAMILY

  • Elizabeth (Bruce) Laskey, Daughter
  • John (Liz) Laskey, Son
  • Mary (Grant) Laskey, Daughter
  • James Laskey, Son
  • Betty Jean Stoltze, Companion
  • Joanne Laskey, Wife
  • William Jennings Laskey, Father
  • Gertrude Laskey, Mother

Services

29 June

Memorial Visitation

5:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Querhammer & Flagg Funeral Home

500 W. Terra Cotta Ave.
Crystal Lake , Illinois

30 June

Memorial Service

10:00 am

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church

210 McHenry Ave.
Crystal Lake , Illinois

REMEMBERING

William J. Laskey

have a memory or condolence to add?

ADD A MEMORY

receive updates when new memories are posted

RECEIVE UPDATES
Jane Snook Sattelberg

June 21, 2018

So sorry for your loss. I have very fond memories of marching band and being friends with Liz.

Peggy Louis

June 18, 2018

I was not in marching band, but Bill's daughter, Liz, was a friend. I haven't seen you in years, Liz, but I always remember you as someone who accepted and befriended me. Jane S passed the obit on to me. I'm sorry for your loss. My dad (91) was visiting for the weekend and I read the obit to him. It finally clicked and he remembered who your dad was. We are lucky to have had them as long as we have. Hugs and sympathy to you and your family.

Brad Brandeau

June 18, 2018

ALL of us who had the privilege of being a student under the direction and inspiration of Bill Laskey were profoundly blessed. Our lives were changed in the most positive ways because of him. He was a true GIFT as an educator, teacher, mentor and human. I was lucky to have shared a few emails and snail mails with Mr. Laskey a few years back where we exchanged some CD's and memories of times gone by, along with the secret Hoagie Recipe that helped us raise funds for the empire he built: The Heraldry Guard. He built some of the strongest memories in the lives of so many students that will continue to influence all of us as life goes on. There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: Music and Cats Albert Schwiezer, Thank you Mr. Laskey for all of YOU that you gave to all of US. You were one of the greatest gifts in my life. Rest Peacefully and we'll all see you on the other side... I'll bring some brushes and we can jam! God Bless you and your family.

Bert Staehling

June 16, 2018

I got to spend a lot of time with Bill teaching him how to fly. I have met very few people in my life who were as generous, fun-loving and enjoyed life as much as Bill. He was a dear and true friend.

Ginny (Schoephoerster) Qualmann

June 15, 2018

He affected my life profoundly! What a gifted, dear teacher and man! RIP, Mr. Laskey.

Judy (O’Donnell) Thoreson

June 15, 2018

Mr. Laskey convinced me to switch to the bass clarinet after years of playing clarinet. I had chipped my front tooth and he said this would make me a better bass clarinetist......I think ( In hindsight) he just needed someone to play the bass clarinet! He was a great instructor I have never forgotten.

Mary Laskey

June 14, 2018

Always stylish--one of my favorite photos of my dad wearing a "Zoot Suit".

Tina Zvolanek

June 13, 2018

I still play my clarinet. You were a great teacher

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Biography

William J. Laskey, age 95, of Crystal Lake, passed away at home on June 8, 2018.

Bill was born to William Jennings and Gertrude Laskey on October 3, 1922, in Chicago. Bill loved music and began playing clarinet and saxophone as a boy. By high school, he was playing big band gigs, eventually performing with Charlie Thornill and Claude Ventura. He served in World War II in the Army Air Corps as a radio operator, stationed in India.

After the war, Bill studied at the Chicago Conservatory of Music, where he met his future wife Joanne. He also studied at Roosevelt University and the University of Illinois, earning a BA in Clarinet Performance and an MA in Music Education. Bill then embarked on a career as a high school band director, teaching for nine years in the small town of Rossville, Illinois. In 1963, Bill and Joanne moved to Crystal Lake where Bill eventually became head of the music department at Crystal Lake Central (Community) High School. During his tenure, he taught beginning band, symphonic band, jazz band, marching band, and music theory and appreciation. He also conducted the pit orchestra for the annual school musical.

In the 1970s, Bill expanded and revamped the Crystal Lake marching band program to include summer competitions. The Heraldry Guard, which included students from both Central and South High Schools, took part in more than a dozen competitions each summer throughout the Midwest. Under Bill’s leadership, the band won numerous competitions and accolades for their marching, innovation, and musicianship. It was ranked among the top 10 marching bands nationally.

Following his retirement from teaching in 1980, Bill became an accomplished photographer, with his work appearing in national magazines and even on billboards. At the age of 79, he took flying lessons and achieved his long-held dream of earning a pilot’s license. He also found time to travel, golf, play bridge, and attend theatre performances. And he remained immersed in music, conducting musicals at the Woodstock Opera House and recording several solo CDs that featured him playing jazz standards on saxophone. In recent years, the Crystal Lake Strikers drumline established the William Laskey scholarship, awarded each year to aspiring percussion students. Bill also was honored to be chosen as the grand marshal for Crystal Lake’s Independence Day Parade (2015).

Bill is survived by his children, Elizabeth (Bruce) Laskey, John (Liz) Laskey, Mary (Grant) Laskey, and James Laskey, as well as his dear companion, Betty Jean Stoltze.

In addition to his parents and sister (Dorothy Smith), Bill was preceded in death by his wife, Joanne, on June 22, 1995. A loving father, uncle, friend, and an inspirational teacher, Bill will be greatly missed.