Stephen E. Frederick

Stephen E. Frederick

Stephen E. Frederick

Stephen E. Frederick, founding director of the Montgomery County Concert Band, passed away on July 20, 2013 after a long illness.

Mr. Frederick was a graduate of West Chester University, receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education and Villanova University, where he earned his Masters degree in Secondary School Administration. He taught music in the Colonial and Central Bucks School Districts before becoming director of bands at North Penn High School. In 1990, he began his tenure as a school administrator. Mr. Frederick retired in 2003 after 35 years as a music educator and administrator, concluding as Principal of North Penn High School.

Mr. Frederick served as a clinician, guest conductor and judge for marching, concert and jazz band events throughout the country. He was a co-founder and director of the Montgomery County Concert Band. He served as Executive Consultant to the US Scholastic Band Association, based in Allentown. Through the years he supervised student teachers for West Chester University, served on the Board of Governors for the former Gibbs School, hosted programs for WNPV radio (1440 am) in Lansdale, and was active in a variety of community and professional organizations.

Website visitors are invited to leave their thoughts and remembrances below the video.

Remembering Steve


  1. Abbie Lampe says:

    Words fail to describe the impact Fred had on our lives – and on mine in particular. I knew of him from Plymouth Jr. High days, had the privilege of working for him with the Marching Knights, and feeling his great support for the winter guard program at North Penn Junior High. More recently, I marvelled at his continued leadership through the Montco band and other events – even while struggling with his illness. He will be greatly missed – and remembered fondly always. Thanks, Fred, for all you did for so many!

  2. Debbie Madison Washko Proud NPMK-Class of 1985 says:

    There are not too many people that come into your life to impact you, mold you, guide you, to help you become the person you are today, especially during your informative high school years, but I have had one of those. I will be forever eternally grateful that I was lead by such a great man. The bond he created with many of us will never be broken and it’s all because of him. I know I am blessed. I can simply say you are my mentor; thank you.

    I would have never in my life expected to have crossed paths with you again as an adult in Sparks, NV but for some reason it happened. I’m so glad it did. It was great seeing you in your element again. Being under your direction as a NPMK will be forever one of my most favorite and memorable times in my life. Many of us are still together because of you. You made that bond. You are simply a great man. Peace to you and all your wonderful family.Thank you Steve Frederick. You will always be “Fred” to me.

  3. Karen Wenhold says:

    Fred I dont even know what to say. You were not only my band director you were like another father to me. Being in the NPMK was the most amazing experience of my life you taught me how to be a team player and whether we won or lost we did it with pride and dignity. You will forever hold a special place in my heart you always made time to help me be a better playing and even after I graduste and I saw you made me feel special. Thanks for creating such a family environment its becsuse if you we all stayed connected and will forever. To Dot Karen and Stephanie thank you for sharing your husband/dad with us. Fred may you now rest in peace we love and miss you.

  4. Rich Fetzer says:

    Steve’s illness and death came as a shock to me as I was traveling for work on Monday night and my wife told me on the phone. Like many who lived in the North Penn area in the 70s and 80s we all knew of Steve’s direction of the North Penn Knights and their notoriety. We moved to the Souderton District, so my son and daughter played and sang in that music program. So I never got to meet Steve personally until I was invited to play in MCCB, probably sometime in the late 90s. At the time, I had only played my trombone at Christmas, etc. so I had not played seriously for about 20 years. Those of you who know Steve as a director, know that he never missed anything going on…. wrong notes, missed timing, etc. So I very quickly knew how “over my head” I was in joining this band. But, I never felt out of place from Steve or anyone else for that matter. Paul Ferla continued to encourage me, when my travel schedule would call me away for a while and I would make my way back to play. Since then, my physical issues with my shoulder have prevented me from continuing to play with MCCB. I really have missed it and have not been in contact much with the band for the past 8 or so years. However, I continued to see Steve at the North Penn Concert Series (one of the many places he volunteered). Steve always said hello like we were old friends and asked about our family, with true interest. In those quick encounters, I never got the impression that he was battling cancer or was sick in any way. Steve and my son Dan share the West Chester music program alum and Steve never forgot that. I was always amazed at a GIANT like Steve would remember a guy who he barely knew for a short time. But, as many have said here, he treated everyone like that. It was about relationships for him. What a guy, what an inspiration to the rest of us to live our lives in that way. Steve achieved so much, but it was never about him. He always deflected that credit back to us. Even though I only got to know Steve for a short time, I will treasure those times because of what Steve stood for. I know that all of us involved with MCCB will miss him dearly as the band continues on. This week I have been thinking of getting out my son’s Euphonium (which would be better for my shoulder) and getting in shape again to come back. I don’t know if I will make the time to do that, but I can hear Steve say….”Just bring it out to practice”. Knowing he would be in for a night of sour notes. But he wouldn’t care. He just wanted to pass on the joy of music to anyone he touched. Thank God for Steve Frederick! His time on earth was too short and we will all miss him dearly, relatives, close friends, or the rest of us who just knew him for a short time.

  5. Evelyn Levy says:

    No words adequate for this giant of a leader. Very sad loss.

  6. John Dively says:

    We have lost to the ages our leader, teacher, and mentor. I always enjoyed our short chats, fantastic rehearsals, and inspiring concerts. We will all deeply miss his presence and guidance. Go in peace Steve and may God watch over you and your family.

  7. Bryan Edgett says:

    This is the tribute to Steve that I posted on facebook yesterday. Last night, Chuck invited the band to post remembrances on this tribute page. Because I am not Facebook friends with everyone who posts here, I thought I’d repost for anyone interested.

    Three days ago, my high shool band director, my first hero, Steve Frederick, passed away after a long battle with cancer. It has taken me some time to gather my thoughts and to decompress from what I found to be a stunning and heartbreaking loss.

    Steve came to North Penn High School in the summer of 1972, my first year there. From then until 1990 when he moved into administration, Steve built that program into one of national recognition. But far beyond his success as a music educator was his impact on those who knew him as “Fred,” a nickname he received, Charlene Kay Daub Loftis reminded me, while playing water polo with us during a break between “3-a-days” during band camp that summer, because “Mr. Frederick” took too long to say when trying to get him to pass the ball. 3-a-days amounted to a total of more than 9 hours of marching band practice spread out between 8:30 in the morning and 9:00 at night. Most of us never had worked so hard at anything up to that point, nor had we seen an adult with such indefatigable energy or singular focus and commitment.

    Steve brought a confidence that strong leadership, shared sacrifice, correct repetition, and proper sequencing could build a winning organization. And he transmitted those values to us by his example and sheer force of his will; most of us recognized that he knew exactly what he wanted to hear, exactly what he wanted to see, and exactly what he expected in comportment so much so that we rarely challenged the boundaries. Along the way, we grew to appreciate the character that developed from following Steve’s example and from heeding his instruction.

    My sister, Janet Edgett Ross, a 1982 North Penn alumna, who studied under Steve and later served as his colleague in the North Penn District, offered a marvelous summary of Steve’s character. “Looking back, it amazes me how great was Steve’s capacity for caring. He cared about music and the arts, cared passionately enough to devote his life to helping others create beauty from little black marks on a page, because the arts both reflect and refine our humanity. They deepen us, broaden us, and focus us. They nurture, provoke, entertain, awe, help and frustrate us… much like Steve. He cared so much about music and about excellence in all things, I wonder how he had anything left to care about people. But he did. He cared, he remembered, he asked, he noticed. Now it occurs to me that these types of caring aren’t really separate; they are two buckets drawing from the same deep well, offering the gifts of wonder and of acceptance.”

    Indeed, Steve did care. And he cared not only for those who were his stars, he cared about all of his students. Steve was the first reason that I became a professional musician and a university music professor. I was a very non-descript high school student with a penchant for academic indifference and adolescent insecurity. Not until my senior year did I show any real passion for music. But in discussing music with Steve, he told me exactly what I needed to do if I wanted to give it a shot. Steve sent me to study with Chuck Neidhardt for a time and later to Millard Hensel, another band director Steve recommended. In that time, I got myself together enough to audition successfully for a spot with the Marine Corps Field Bands. And through the transition, there was Steve, encouraging me, pushing me to audition for things, and telling me he believed I could do it. That was enough for me.

    Steve stuck with people when others would have given up. Several times in the past six or seven years, I tried to tell Steve just how much he had meant to my development and to thank him for sticking with me when I was much more of a misfit than what I was a musician. But Steve brushed me off each time not wanting to take credit for success he had prompted, for the concerned character he displayed, for the encouragement he offered, for the confidence he had built, and for the legacy he had left. I have talked to many people in the short time since he went into hospice care who shared similar observations; Steve seemed surprised at the depth of his influence.

    I also must express a deep debt of gratitude to Steve’s wife Dot, and to his daughters, Karen Frederick-Diehl and Stephanie K. Frederick. Steve was larger than life and one does not have such protracted success whithout loving support. Dot, Karen, and Stephanie shared Steve with all of us and I am profoundly grateful for that and for them.

    We will gather once more to honor Steve, a man who gave so much to so many. I am honored to be playing with the memorial band that will conclude his service.

    Steve, Your influence will be felt for generations. Rest in peace, my first hero, my teacher, my colleague, and my friend.

  8. Joe Gerdelmann says:

    Ever since the announcement of Steve’s passing, I’ve been trying to put into words my sense of loss and emptiness. But every word or phrase seems so inadequate for a man who has been a tremendous influence on so many.

    Having been a member of the Montgomery County Concert Band since its inception, Steve was a “maestro” in the purest sense. But he also built personal relationships and cared about everyone. He knew my wife and son and always asked about them and he was the first person to help my wife’s music program when she was laid up with an injury. I know our relationship with Steve was not unique – he cared about and was there for everyone who knew him. He will be sorely missed.

    As I said earlier, every word or phrase seems inadequate when talking about Steve. I can only echo the tributes and testimonials expressed by everyone else.

    To Dot, Karen, Stephanie and the rest of Steve’s family, Steve is at peace – he is no longer suffering. “Thank you” for sharing Steve’s life with all of us. The North Penn community not only lost a “maestro” – it lost an icon.

  9. Wayne Schook says:

    It was my privilege to know Steve thru the MCCB. He knew musically what he wanted to hear and how to get it, which made the band what it is today. He will smile down upon us as he hears the “ta ta” and “tut tut” of his applied knowledge and talent, and because of him we have been blessed. Steve was a gentleman and a man of principle. I know the music is even better in Heaven now. My deepest sympathy to his wife and family.

  10. Julee Gilbert-Belsterling says:

    Victor Hugo in Les Miserable said, “To love another person is to see the face of God” Steve saw a great many faces and we were lucky enough to have looked upon his.

  11. Ken Husler says:

    Steve was a GIANT in education for Southeastern PA. As a young and aspiring band director in Lancaster County, I certainly looked up to and respected Steve on a variety of levels. His North Penn bands were the model of professionalism and consistency, and I certainly benefited from listening to him speak and conversing with him at Cavalcade of Bands meetings. I am grateful for the opportunity to have have benefited from his wisdom and insights, and I genuinely appreciated his willingness to share ideas and professional ideology. Steve will be greatly missed.

  12. Karel Quinn says:

    I remember a story I was told by my grandparents about my Aunt Robin, when she was in the marching band in high school. They were trying to out a height requirement in all the members of the guard but she was only 4ft 11 inches tall and she got mad cause the height was going to be 5 ft she was just a bit short. Fred was the band director at the time for North Penn High. He was a great friend of the family and he is going to be missed very much by a lot of people. Enjoy directing the great band in heaven.

  13. Helaine Brown says:

    Rest in peace, Maestro Steve. Thank you for all that you have done to promote music and music education in our communities. You’ve touched the lives of so many. I’ll miss your warmth, enthusiasm, vitality, humor and friendship. My heart is filled with grief and my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. It has truly been a privilege to play under your baton in the MCCB. Thanks for inspiring us to play to new heights! You will be missed and thought of often.

  14. Joan Kell Berresford says:

    As a fellow Lock Haven High School graduate,Steve and I worked together many times as accompanists for all the choral music events. His kindness plus his wonderful musicianship always meant so much to me. I knew he would touch the lives of many people and make lasting memories. Such a sad time. My sympathy to his family and friends.

  15. Brenda McCrae Dickerson says:

    Steven Frederick was my first principal in the North Penn School District-Penndale Middle School. My first encounter with him was warm, frieindly and most comfortable. Steve was a wealth of information for me in this very new environment. I enjoyed our time together at Penndale and was delighted that we went to the High School to work together. He introduced me to his wonderful family and I remember Stephanie most fondly. My heartfelt sympathy goes to the family! Steve was a wonderful man!!

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