The Birth of SPEBSQSA in Bloomington

There’s A Meetin’ Here Tonight    

The Bloomington Chapter has called 10 locations its rehearsal home since 1942. Not counting the site of its first meeting at the American Legion Building, because it was temporary, rehearsal halls have been:

Illinois Hotel (1942-62)

Bloomington Federal S&L (1962-3)

Miller Park Pavilion (1963-7)

Illinois House (1967-74)

Central Catholic High School (1974-6)

Odd Fellows Hall, Normal (1976-8)

Consistory (1978-83)

Mennonite Health Services Building (1983-6)

Consistory (1986-2004)

Second Presbyterian Church, Grace Hall (2004-present)


Ten Directors Since 1942

There have been 10 directors of the chorus since its beginning. In order, they have been:

  • John Hanson (1942-53)
  • Floyd Connett (1953-7)
  • Glenn Perdue (1957-71)
  • Samuel L. Anliker (1971-77)
  • Dean Ramga (1977-79)
  • Byron W. Blair (1979-82)
  • James A. Stahly (1982-90)
  • James A. Stahly and Byron W. Blair (1991-93)
  • George Peters (1994)
  • Byron W. Blair (1994-95)
  • Dennis Morrissey (1995-2002)
  • Terry Ludwig (2002-present)

International Board Members/Officers:

Dwayne Cooper, who got his start in barbershopping as a member of Sam Anliker’s Bloomington High School barbershoppers and the Sound of Illinois Chorus in the 1976, is the Barbershop Harmony Society’s (BHS) treasurer.    Dwayne’s wife, Barbara, is the daughter of Bob and Betty Moore of Bloomington (Bob’s a long-time member of SOI).   When a job took Dwayne to Texas in (year), he maintained his barbershop life.  He’s been active musically (he directs his New Braunfels chapter), he was Southwestern District president 2008-2010, and he took the reins as Society treasurer in 2010.  Dwayne lives in New Braunfels and has three children.




John Hanson (1942-43)





Otto BeichOtto G. Beich (1944-47)


Loren F. Bogart (1962-63)

International Contest Judges:

Loren F. Bogart, stage presence (1959-71)









photo (2)Jim Stahly, arrangement (1982-89)















Award for Barbershopping Excellence (ABE) in Illinois:

Loren Bogart (1973)











Forrest G. Stahly (1974)










Jack Aldridge (1988)










Rich Hansen (2010)








Terry Ludwig (2015)







District Presidents:

Three members of the Bloomington Chapter have served as president of the Illinois District:

B. Paul Jefferson, a Bloomington Chapter founder, served in 1943.







Loren Bogart served in 1957 while a member at Princeton (he soon after relocated to Bloomington).







Phil Rolfs, served in 2007-08.



Rich Hansen, 2015-16

Jim Waldorf, current member, served in 2017-18


Other District Officers:

  • Forrest G. Stahly, treasurer (1955-60), vice president (1961-62).
  • Lee Wells, secretary (1976-77), treasurer (1978-79).
  • Dennis Morrissey, vice president-chorus director development (1998-2002)
  • Terry Ludwig, vice president-chorus director development (2007), vice president-music & performance (2000-4).
  • Jim Stahly, vice president-marketing & PR (1997-99).
  • Phil Rolfs, executive vice president (2005-6).
  • Greg Grey, co-vice president-marketing & PR (2011-2012), vice president-youth in harmony (2009-2010), vice president-members (2005-08).
  • Rich Hansen, vice president-youth in harmony (2001-08, 2011-12), assistant vice president-youth in harmony (1998-2001).

Five District Champion Quartets 

1960 Illinois Champion

The Four Barons (1960)

Bob Potts, baritone; Bob Park, lead; Jerry Girard, tenor; Chuck Lewis, bass.

1970 Illinois Champion

The Ideals (1970)

Chuck Lewis, bass; Al Draper, baritone; Jack Aldridge, lead; Jim Stahly, tenor.

Illinois Champion 1977

The Candidates (1977)

Steve Burkhart, left, tenor; Dean Ramga, right, lead; Tim McEvilly, bottom, baritone; Ed Chapman, top, bass. Ramga was a Bloomington member and director.

Illinois Champion 2010

After Hours (2010) 

Tim Beutel, tenor; Benjamin Harding, lead; Dan Wessler, bass; Kevin McClelland, baritone.

Illinois Champ 2011

The Waldorf Hair Company (2011)

Terry Ludwig, tenor; Tim Pashon, lead; Bret Reinthaler, bass; Craig Ahlgrim, baritone.

Drive Time (2014)

Tim Pashon, lead: Tim Mahannah, tenor: Andy Isbell, bass: Rich Hansen, baritone

Only Two-Time Champ

Chuck Lewis (deceased) is the only two-time district quartet champion in the Bloomington Chapter. He sang bass in both groups: The Four Barons (1960) and The Ideals (1970).



Only Bloomington International Quartet Champion   

Bob Lindley is the only Bloomington chapter member to win a gold medal with an international champion quartet, although that occurred prior to him joining Bloomington.  The Vikings won the title in 1953 after winning the Illinois state title in 1951.  All four men sang at Augustana College and were encouraged by a WHBF radio announcer to visit the Rock Island barber shop chapter.  They joined and placed second in two straight state competitions before becoming state champs.  Two years later, they won the international title. During a quartet job in Geneseo in 1949, he learned of an opening in the city’s chamber of commerce. He took the job, then moved to Pekin’s chamber in 1952.  While there, he sang baritone with the Kord Kutters quartet.  Bob moved to Bloomington in 1958 to become head of the association of commerce.  He emceed 11 Bloomington shows (1959-1967, 1969, 1971, 1977), more than any other emcee.  Bob left Bloomington in 1963 to work with several professional trade associations, retiring in 1988 from the American Association of Medical Society Executives.


  John Hanson and The Corn Belt Chorus


Bloomington’s first director, John Hanson, also led choruses in other Central Illinois communities. He told Society Founder O.C. Cash in a recorded letter (circa 1944) his dream was to someday put a thousand men on stage at the same time, all singing songs he had taught them at their individual chapter meetings. At that time, he admitted, there wasn’t a venue large enough to hold such a group, so the most that had gathered for one singout was about 300. The concept took shape in 1946 with choruses in 9 cities participating: Bloomington, Decatur, Monmouth, Canton, Jacksonville, Peoria, Rock Island, Galesburg and Lincoln. It died in 1953 when John Hanson retired from directing (he died July 17, 1954). At that time, six cities were involved (Bloomington, Decatur, Champaign, Dwight, Peoria, and Gibson City).

Number of Corn Belt Chorus cities by year:

  • 1946 – 9 cities
  • 1947 – 7 cities
  • 1948 – 10 cities
  • 1949 – 8 cities
  • 1950 – 4 cities
  • 1951 – 5 cities
  • 1952 – 6 cities
  • 1953 – 6 cities

Community Involvement by year:

Community No. of Years Years
Bloomington 8 1946-53
Decatur 8 1946-53
Champaign 6 1948-53
Monmouth 5 1946-50
Canton 4 1946-49
Jacksonville 4 1946-49
Dwight 3 1951-53
Peoria 3 1946, 1952-53
Rock Island 3 1946-47, 1949
Galesburg 2 1946, 1948
Mattoon 2 1947-48
Burlington, IA 1 1949
Cambridge 1 1947
Charleston 1 1948
Gibson City 1 1953
Lincoln 1 1946
Princeton 1 1948
Springfield 1 1951
Urbana 1 1952

The Corn Belt Chorus … Recreated in 1992 for Bloomington’s 50th

Bloomington’s 50th anniversary show in 1992 drew on 10 Central Illinois chapters to recreate the Corn Belt Chorus.  This is a photo of the entire group of men from chapters in Bloomington, Bureau County, Champaign-Urbana, Coles County, Decatur, Macomb, Pekin, Peoria, Rock Island and Springfield.