Central Wisconsin music icon dies at 87
For Hub City Times
MARSHFIELD – Local bandleader, Howie Sturtz, has passed away at the age of 87.
The Howie Sturtz Orchestra entertained thousands over the past six-plus decades, at dance halls, weddings, and most notably, the Central Wisconsin State Fair.
Sturtz was a Loyal native, and showed great promise as a musician, joining the Loyal High School Senior band as a 7th grader, winning awards at local, district, and state competitions.
In 1944, at the age of 14, Howie was hired to play trumpet with the Art Lucht Dance Band, and two years later assembled his own small orchestra. The Howie Sturtz Orchestra would eventually play thousands of dance jobs; perform hundreds of live TV shows; and record many albums.
Sturtz once served as branch manager for WDLB’s Neillsville Studio.
In 1957, Howie was awarded a permit to build his own radio station, putting WCCN on the air. In 1965, at the conclusion of the 1964 World’s fair, Howie and WCCN Sales Manager Wayne Grap purchased the Wisconsin Pavilion of the New York World’s Fair. The reconstructed pavilion housed the new studios for WCCN AM-FM and has, under the ownership of Kevin and Peggy Grap, endured to the present as a highly successful radio station and tourist attraction.
A private funeral mass for Howie Sturtz will be held for immediate family.
Memorials may be made to the Loyal and Neillsville food pantries, and the Marshfield Ronald McDonald House.