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Chief Master Sgt. Floyd Werle
Chief Master Sgt. Floyd Werle
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Air Force Band Mourns Former Chief Arranger

Posted 7/23/2010   Updated 7/14/2015 Email story   Print story


7/23/2010 - July 19, 2010 -- Retired Chief Master Sgt. Floyd Werle, who arranged hundreds of musical numbers for The U.S. Air Force Band and his local parish, passed away in Oakland, Calif., on July 19 following a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Chief Werle was best known as chief musical arranger for The U.S. Air Force Band. He was handpicked to be part of the Air Force's premier musical organization by then conductor Col. George S. Howard.

"Floyd E .Werle was the heart and soul of The U.S. Air Force Band and Singing Sergeants, and I mourn his loss," said U.S. Air Force Band Conductor Emeritus Col. Arnald Gabriel.

Chief Werle worked extensively with Colonel Gabriel starting in 1964, when the colonel became commander and conductor of the Band. The two embarked on an 18-year creative surge, leading to over 50 original compositions. The Chief retired from the Air Force in 1982, but was continually honored for his contributions.

He joined the Band in 1951, as an arranger for weekly Air Force Radio broadcasts involving the Singing Sergeants and Symphony Orchestra. Over 900 of Chief Werle's compositions spanning a 32-year career are now housed in the "Floyd E. Werle Music Library" in Hangar II on Bolling Air Force Base, Washington D.C. The Library was named in his honor during a ceremony in January 2008.

"I am deeply saddened by the news of Chief Werle's passing. He was a wonderful man, brilliant musician, amazing husband and stellar Chief," said Lt. Col. A. Phillip Waite, commander and conductor of The U.S. Air Force Band. "His musical genius inspired me on my very first performance as a Second Lieutenant conducting the Singing Sergeants, and continues to amaze me as The U.S. Air Force Concert Band, Singing Sergeants and I prepare to perform his original composition, 'The Story of the Battle Hymn.'"

Chief Werle was born in Billings, Mont., in 1929. He began playing piano at age 5, and continued picking up instruments throughout his childhood. He played in dance bands in the Billings area, always accompanied by a relative since he was under age and taking to the stage. He was a member of several student dance and jazz bands, performing regularly on Billings radio stations. His very first composition, "Buck Rake Boogie" for solo piano, was written early in his high school days.

Following his graduation from Billings High School, Chief Werle enrolled in the University of Michigan's music department. It soon became apparent that his future would be in musical arranging.

In 1950, he joined the 695th Air Force Band at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Mont., as the Korean War broke out. Around that time, Colonel Howard heard the Michigan Band play a medley of songs from "South Pacific," and was so impressed that he asked for the arranger's name. When Colonel Howard was informed that Chief Werle was already in the Air Force, he began scheming to bring the hard-working arranger to D.C.

When he finally joined the premier Air Force band, Chief Werle was quickly named chief arranger and held the title for 30 years. He was also deeply involved in musical worship, composing over 200 hymns while overseeing the musical program at his local Methodist church in Rockville, Md.

In 1999, his wife Violet Rose Lowder Werle, died following a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. Chief Werle asked to be cremated. His ashes will be placed with Violet's, who is interred at Faith United Methodist Church in Rockville.

7/29/2010 3:17:37 PM ET
A memorial service for Floyd Werle will be held on Sunday, August 15, 2010, at 4:00 p.m., at Lake Merritt United Methodist Church, 1330 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland, CA, with participation by Montclair-Trinity United Methodist Church of Berkeley, CA. Pastors Mary Elyn Bahlert and Jeff Kunkel will officiate. Floyd was volunteer organist for both congregations alternating Sundays for several years.
Virginia Turner, Oakland California
7/29/2010 12:33:26 PM ET
I am making a DVD of Floyd's life to show at his memorial service at Lake Merritt UMC in Oakland on 8-15-2010. I am requesting photos and stories to include in this musical DVD. Thank you for responding 510-644-2692 Copy of DVD will be sent to Faith UMC and Masonic Lodge in D.C.
Russ Aubry, Berkeley Ca
7/24/2010 12:06:58 PM ET
Please send information about the funeral and memorial. DeeAnn and I cared very deeply for Floyd.
Dr. John Boyd, Terre Haute IN
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