Awkerman, Martha (1928-2008) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Awkerman, Martha (1928-2008)


Historical Note: Martha J. "Martye" Awkerman (1928-2008), cornet soloist with the Women in the Air Force Band (WAF), the Long Beach Municipal Band, and the Hormel Girls Band, grew up in Pennsylvania and received trumpet performance degrees from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music in the early 1950s, where she studied with Frank Simon and Harold Mitchell.  From 1955 to 1961 Awkerman played lead cornet and trumpet with the 543rd Air Force Band under the leadership of Captain Marybelle J. Nissley.  During her tenure with this ensemble she traveled around the world on USO tours and invitational engagements performing for both military and civilian audiences.  Following the deactivation of the WAF Band in 1961 she became the first woman to be accepted into the famed Long Beach Municipal Band, where she played with many former members of the John Phillip Sousa Band.   She remained with the Long Beach band until her retirement in 1983.  For her achievements in performance she earned both the WAF Band Silver Trumpet Award and Sigma Alpha Iota music sorority's Life Time Achievement Award.
Sources: Telephone interview with Awkerman on June 14, 2007.  Paula Snyder, niece of Awkerman, wrote August 25, 2008, that her aunt had died in June 2008.
Note Author: Jennifer Wood, Molly Dolan,  Dennis Sears, and Scott Schwartz





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