John Jenkins ’57 Spreads His Love of Music Worldwide

John’s fondest memories from Michigan are the friends he made there—Delta Chi brothers, Marching and Symphony Band colleagues, and several who shared both.  Since the “fifties” reunion he has enjoyed reconnecting with even more brothers.  Soon after, he learned of the campaign to build a new Delta Chi house; he dedicated a room to the memory of his Delta Chi roommate and band friend Russell Jack, Jr. who, like John, was a lifelong music educator. 


During rush, John heard from member Bob Stakenas that Delta Chi was “a good little fraternity, solid and tightly-knit, with an impressive history on campus and a fine national reputation.”  This describes well how John recalls his fraternity—broadly based and exemplifying the best of fraternity life.

A yearly favorite of John was J-Hop Weekend, featuring spotlight bands for all-campus Friday and Saturday night dances.  Members moved out for the weekend; dates (and chaperone) moved in and slept in members’ beds in two “sleeping lofts.”  John’s least favorite Delta Chi memory is of cold nights in these unheated spaces; he notes that each suite in the new house will include bedrooms.  He fondly recalls his 1955-56 roommates, all Delta Chi officers and their room they called The Officers’ Club.

Newly-initiated in 1954, John earned the chapter’s Scholarship Award.  Keith Hellems (’62) surprised him last year with a call to say that he had just read spring 1957 minutes of the vote to establish a new Chapter Luminary Award and present it to John—a long-forgotten senior year moment to be treasured!

At Michigan, John earned BM and MM degrees in the School of Music, a MA in the School of Education, and a PhD in the Center for Study of Higher Education.  After graduation he served as Executive Officer in the U.S. Army Sixth Armored Cavalry, Ft. Knox, then taught band and instrumental music in Brimley and Ann Arbor, Michigan public schools. In 1963, University of Massachusetts President Lederle appointed Jenkins Director of Bands, charged with developing  “an accredited band program that will someday rival Dr. Revelli’s renowned Michigan Bands.”  For fifty years, Dr. Jenkins gained recognition as campus leader and national advocate for improved undergraduate and general education.  Hokkaido University, Japan, appointed him Professor in Residence “to provide expertise and leadership in implementing a new general education curriculum,” and the Tokyo Ministry of Education published his recommendations.   

John remarried in 1985, and this year he and Miriam celebrated 30 joyful years together—improving their hundred-year-old farm house, enjoying  multiple gardens (created by Miriam, a master-gardener) and making music in local ensembles.  Miriam is John’s “greatest treasure,” and their blended family is “large and complex.”  How else could one describe a ninety-five-year-old mother, active and engaged in current affairs; two brothers and their families; six adult children and twelve grandchildren ranging in age from four years to an undergraduate football player, a daughter in a PhD program, and another in veterinary school?  Miriam and John wouldn’t have it any other way.    

Looking back, John has no regrets.  He is thankful for Delta Chi, where he learned the meaning of true friendship.  When people look back 50 years from now, he hopes they will remember him as a person of integrity, determination, and patience who cared about helping others.  John urges brothers to email him: [email protected].