The names are iconic: Tony Bennett, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra – to name a very few. Those names are part of the Don Halm Collection, which includes 1,900 vinyl records, 789 compact discs and 23 books.
The in-kind donation, appraised at more than $17,000, was made by Ferris State University Web Content Manager Ted Halm, on behalf of his late father. As he thought about his father's musical stock, Ted noted that the collection, which features some of the most recognizable names in music history, "will benefit Ferris' historical archives and will be used as resources for various music programs at the university."
Currently housed at University Archives, in Ferris' Alumni Building, the Don Halm Collection features boxes upon boxes of the works of musical legends, including Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Bix Beiderbecke, George Gershwin, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Woody Herman, Harry James, Peggy Lee, Gene Krupa, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Art Tatum and others who made noteworthy musical contributions during the last 90 years. The collection includes jazz and swing music and complete boxed sets of big band music that was particularly popular during the 1920s. Ted noted that the collection of music – music that has both shaped and reflected an evolving U.S. culture since the Roaring Twenties – held an extra-special place in his dad's heart.
"My father had a lifetime passion for jazz and record album collecting," Ted noted about a collection that dates back to the 1920s – also referred to by some as the Jazz Age – all the way up to present-day music. "There was always music playing in our home and I was introduced to all the great musicians of his generation. To this day, I am learning new jazz standards that I can play on my piano in my dad's memory."
Don Halm, a native of Saginaw, served during World War II at the same time as his late brothers Bob, Bill and Jack. He was a radioman in the Asian Pacific Theater Campaign on the U.S.S. Shellbank. After an honorable discharge, Don attended Michigan State University on the GI bill and went on to graduate with MSU's class of 1949. After his graduation, Don went on to sell pharmaceuticals for Wyeth and McNeil for more than 40 years. In addition to his love of jazz music, Don was passionate about art, backyard bird feeding, film, gardening and politics. After retirement, he volunteered for the McRee Guest House, the state of Michigan Historical Museum, the Meridian Senior Center and Lifeline Emergency Response Service.
Don's family, raised in the Lansing suburb of Okemos, includes seven children, 10 grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
During the last 40 years, the Halm family connection to Ferris has grown stronger and stronger. Ted has worked at Ferris for 34 years in his former capacity, as sports information director, and in his current position, as Web content manager. Ted's son and Don's grandson, Nick, is a sophomore at Ferris in the College of Education and Human Services. Nick is also a member of Ferris' club baseball team. Ted's daughter and Don's granddaughter, Lottee, is a senior at nearby Chippewa Hills High School, and plans to enroll at Ferris in Fall 2014. Don's brother, Bill, was a former faculty member in the College of Business who taught from 1972 until 2005. His brother, Jack, graduated from Ferris in 1951.
Ted noted that his father's connection to Ferris continued to grow stronger – in particular during Ted's days as the university's SID.
"My dad loved Ferris and its down-home atmosphere and really enjoyed attending our football games and golf outings," Ted said. "He even gave away his Michigan State University season tickets so he would be free to travel from Okemos to Big Rapids and watch the Bulldogs. It was his dying wish to donate his extensive collection of jazz albums, CDs and books to Ferris."
Pictured in the photo above (from left to right) are: Ted Halm, son of Don; Melinda Isler, FLITE Archives and Special Collections; and Jeremy Mishler, Alumni Relations