The program begins at 10:30 a.m. in Wartburg Chapel. The Rev. Brian Beckstrom, dean of spiritual life and Moehlmann chaplaincy chair, will deliver the message, “More Than a Piece of Paper.” About 20 students are expected to participate in the commencement ceremony.
Lee served for 36 years as director of the Wartburg College Band, retiring in 1995. He founded the Knightliters Jazz Band in 1959, passing the baton in 1986. He also directed the Wartburg Community Symphony from 1959 to 1964. In 1990, the band alumni honored Lee by donating more than $40,000 in his name toward construction of the Bachman Fine Arts Center. This spring, the Dr. Robert E. Lee Endowed Scholarship was created with gifts from band and music education alumni to honor his distinguished career and support students studying to become instrumental music instructors.
Lee co-founded the long-running Shell Rock Spring Swing variety show with his brother-in-law in 1965. A crowd favorite, Lee was part of many novelty acts, especially anything related to polka or Dixieland music, and played trumpet and saxophone in the stage band. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Luther College, which later awarded him the Carlos A. Sperati Award in recognition of his distinguished career in musical arts. He earned a Master of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin and a doctorate from the University of Iowa.