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Plymouth Canton Music Boosters

Apple Man Award

Memories of "The Apple Man"

by Gerry Olexsey, Past President
Plymouth-Canton Music Boosters

L. John Miller, also known as "The Apple Man" passed away in late June of this year (2009). L. John was a great supporter of this program and more importantly, a friend to all the students. This evening we honor L. John for his devotion to the Plymouth Canton Marching Band. You will recognize our special tribute by the single red balloon during our festivities today.

I would like to introduce you to the L. John Miller other wise known as “The Apple Man”. If you have been part of this organization for only the last four years you and your student probably do not know the real “Apple Man”. You may have heard of him and you know there is an award named after him, but you have never had the real “Apple Man” experience. He is much more than some old guy that delivered apples to the buses.

I first met L. John late in the 1998 marching band season. I must admit I was a little leery of him when I first saw him. You have to remember, I was not real excited about my son joining this marching band thing and to me everything and everyone different was bad or suspicious. The first thing that came to mind when seeing and older gentleman delivering apples and talking to high school kids was “dirty old man”!!! Then my son got a call from “The Apple man” right before Nationals and I went through the roof. I gave my son the third degree ---what did he say? What did he ask? What did you say? Etc. Come to find out, my son was one of about 200 kids that received a similar call. Something “Apple Man” did every year to wish the kids good luck. If the kids were freshman and nervous (like my son) he would spend all the time the student wanted on the phone.

I started to think that “The Apple Man” must be a pretty decent guy. I introduced myself at Nationals among the crowd of people around him talking to him. I thought in that crowd he would never remember. He did and since that time he greeted me every time he saw me.

The introduction does not end here. If you ever went to a competition when L. John and Kari (his wife) attended (every competition), you knew who was the first one out his seat cheering the kids. It was L. John up first, and trust me you could hear him. By the way, when I mentioned cheering the kids, it was not only our kids. It was every kid in every band. He made sure every kid passing in review got the same intensity. You know how must of us wane as the review goes on – not L. John, the first student received the same as the last from “The Apple Man”.

You must be thinking that L. John was one heck of a marching band fan. Yes, he was. However, do not limit him. He was at every concert!! Guess who was the first out of his seat at every concert?

Guess who was at every GLI, every car wash and every fundraiser? Guess who had the total spirit of the program? Guess who had it figured out long ago? He wasn’t just “The Apple Man”. He was and is part of the spirit of this program. He is a role model to all that are involved in this program.

When I became president I got to know L. John a little more. I had the privilege of presenting him a plaque from the boosters when he moved to Walla Walla. I must say presenting that plaque brought a tear to my eye. A tear because he deserved it and a tear because we were losing Kari and him.

L. John was a very rich man. I do not believe he was a wealthy man. In fact I have no idea how much money he had. His riches were in terms of the people that knew him and loved him. I am talking in terms of thousands of students, parents and staff that knew him as “The Apple Man” and much more. You too can meet L. John. At the next competition or event, try and be the first one out of your seat and give every student the recognition they deserve and see how it feels to be “The Apple Man”.

Student Awards

John Philip Sousa Band Award

The Sousa Award is the pinnacle of achievement in a high school band. Introduced in 1955 to honor the top student in the high school band, the John Philip Sousa Band Award® recognizes superior musicianship and outstanding dedication. It was created with the approval of Helen Sousa Albert and Priscilla Sousa, daughters of the famous composer and bandmaster.
The Patrick S. Gilmore Band Award® was introduced in 1994 in honor of the legendary bandmaster and impresario. Patrick Gilmore (1829-1892) and his band joined General Burnside’s expedition to North Carolina in the Civil War. Gilmore also played for every president of his day, including Abraham Lincoln. This beautiful award honors outstanding high school band students and their achievements and commitment to the band. It may be used as a runner-up award to the John Philip Sousa Award®.

James R. Griffith Director’s Award

The Director’s Award for Band® honors outstanding members of your junior or senior high school band. We have named it the James R. Griffith Director’s Award here at P-CEP out of respect and to maintain his legacy with the P-CEP Bands.

Apple Man Award -

The L. John Miller "Apple Man" award, unique to the P-CEP Band Program, is presented each spring to the student who show outstanding service, dedication and leadership to the P-CEP Band program. 

The Linda Calzone Award

This award is presented to the student who most personifies the qualities demonstrated by Linda Calzone. Mrs. Calzone gave 35 years of dedicated service as a band director for P-CCS. She always put the needs of the community and others before herself. The student who is honored with this award should actively seek involvement in a wide range of musical opportunities. He or she must be dedicated to bringing joy to themselves and others through their involvement in music. Above all, the recipient of this award should be willing to help others.

The Karen Tharp Award

This award is presented to the student who most personifies the qualities demonstrated by Karen Tharp. Mrs. Tharp gave 32 years of dedicated service as a band director for P-CCS. Karen is strong, determined, and consistent in her approach for musical excellence. The student who is honored with this award demonstrates the leadership qualities that Mrs. Tharp demonstrated every day for her students.

Louis Armstrong Jazz Award

The Louis Armstrong Jazz Award® was inaugurated in 1974 with the consent of his widow shortly after this great jazz artist died in 1971. It honors the outstanding jazz musician at each high school.

Woody Herman Jazz Award

The Woody Herman Jazz Award® was created in 1988, shortly after Herman’s death, to honor outstanding jazz students. Middle schools use the award to honor their top jazz players, while high schools offer it as a runner-up for the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award®.


Plymouth Canton Music Boosters

P.O. Box 701135 
Plymouth, Michigan 48170

Email: [email protected]

Contact Us

Plymouth Canton Music Boosters

P.O. Box 701135 
Plymouth, Michigan 48170

Email: [email protected]

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