ESCANABA - The Remnants Barbershop Chorus lost two of its dedicated members this year who will certainly leave a void in the singing group.
Richard "Dick" Schmeltzer, who died on Sept. 8, will be long remembered, not only as a dedicated member of the Remnants Chorus, but also as an entertaining master of ceremonies for the annual Harvest of Harmony festivals. His dead-pan humor kept audiences entertained throughout the performances.
Schmeltzer was introduced to barbershop singing when it became an adult education class in the late 1940s, and he and his long-time friend and co-worker at the Daily Press, Lowell Sundstrom, were the first ones in line. It wasn't long before the pair gatherered enough new members to start the Bay de Noc Chorus. It was at that time that the first barbershop concerts, with visiting quartets from around the Great Lakes area, began in Escanaba.
Richard 'Dick' Schmeltzer
These two ambassadors of song soon blended into a comedy team with a continuous binge of humor like the Laurel and Hardy combo.
Both Schmeltzer (accordion) and Sundstrom (bass horn) were talented musicians who, along with fiddle-player, John Collins, formed "The Firehouse Four Minus One" combo that entertained in the area for many years. Schmeltzer also wrote parodies to many of the popular songs in his day.
It was Schmeltzer who chose the name "Remnants" for the group of original barbershop singers he brought back to re-form the current chorus.
Paul Frederickson died unexpectedly on Aug. 14. Not only was Fredrickson a member of the chorus, he was also a close personal friend with several of the singers, particularly Bill Ehrhardt and the late Don Bjorklund.
The three frequently be found following their weekly rehearsals at the Gladstone Yacht Club where they were aptly named, "Frick," "Frac," and "Fruck."