Department loses percussion instructor

Dr. Jeremy Kushner, director of percussion studies, performs with the jazz orchestra Nov. 30, 2004. Kushner died Oct. 8.

Dr. Jeremy Kushner, director of percussion studies, performs with the jazz orchestra Nov. 30, 2004. Kushner died Oct. 8.

Some people march to a different drum; others teach the drummers to a different beat.

Dr. Jeremy Kushner, director of percussion studies, died Oct. 8 after suffering a heart attack.

He was 35 years old.

Kushner came to Missouri Southern three and a half years ago.

“I was part of the search committee that hired him,” said Bud Clark, head of the music department. “We felt very fortunate to have someone of his caliber on our staff.”

Clark said Kushner was active in his teaching and worked hard to keep the students motivated.

“It’s quite a loss for our department and anyone who knew him,” Clark said.

Other faculty members echo these sentiments.

Dr. Cynthia Hukill, assistant professor of music, was also on the search committee that found Kushner in 2002.

“We were so thrilled to have him and his wife here,” she said. “We all knew he was the one who needed to join us.”

Hukill said the department is establishing a memory book in honor of Kushner to give to his wife and his daughter, who is almost one year old.

There is also a memorial scholarship being put in place for one student each semester.

“We want to be sure that his fine work is continued,” Hukill said.

Hukill said the news of Kushner’s death came as a shock and hoped the students remembered several things about him.

“He had a very sweet disposition,” she said. “He had a dry sense of humor. Though, he was very funny. You could always joke with him.”

She said Kushner was close to the students he taught and always expected the best from them.

“His students always presented themselves professionally,” Hukill said. “I hope they remember his professionalism.”

Kushner also worked with various organizations outside of the campus and even brought his father, who teaches musicology in Florida, to class with him.

“I think that was wonderful,” Hukill said. “He was a great example for the students.”

Matt Brusca, sophomore percussion and music education major, was one of Kushner’s students.

“He was always real patient,” Brusca said. “He pushed us to always do better. He was patient with us and always wanted us to do the best.”

Some students did not want to accept the news.

“It didn’t even hit me,” said Josh Zimmer, senior percussion major. “I was in complete disbelief.”

Zimmer said Kushner had touched him personally.

“I think the biggest thing he bestowed upon me and others was making you focus,” he said. “He did it through his love of music.”

A memorial service was held at Kushner’s hometown in Gainesville, Fl. on Oct. 12.

The music department had no definite plans for a memorial service at Southern at the time of publication, but there are plans in the making.

A memorial fund has also been put in place by the United Hebrew Congregation for his daughter, Sarah.

The faculty members will work together to continue Kushner’s classes, but there is no word on a replacement at this time.

The students, however, remembered Kushner’s work and what he brought to Southern.

“He was real intense person,” Zimmer said. “He made you want to work and go beyond what you had done. What made him happy was watching other people grow.”

Clark said the students would have a different perspective on Kushner than what the faculty members would have.

“I hope they remember how much he cared for them,” Clark said. “He had such a sweet spirit about him. He was always very up. He was just the perfect faculty member you would want to have.”