32 Years of music

Dr. Charles Thelen, professor of music, plays a solo during a jazz concert in December. Thelen plans to retire this semester after 32 years of teaching at Southern.

File Photo

Dr. Charles Thelen, professor of music, plays a solo during a jazz concert in December. Thelen plans to retire this semester after 32 years of teaching at Southern.

Parker Willis

For one instructor this coming May holds more significance than the end of the semester, it is the end of a career. Dr. Charles Thelen, professor of music, is retiring after 32 years at Missouri Southern.

“I wasn’t that young when I started,” Thelen said.

He said he had already taught 12 years at Bakersfield public schools, spent two years in the military and spent another three years earning his masters and doctoral degrees.

Although he has already spent nearly 45 years teaching, Thelen was still hesitant about retiring.

“I could have retired seven or eight years ago, but I didn’t really want to because I enjoy this (teaching),” Thelen said.

Thelen has many plans after retiring. He doesn’t just plan on sitting around. He wants to visit his children and grandchildren around the country, traveling at times when everyone else is keeping their nose to the grindstone so there are not as many people to contend with. He also plans on getting more involved with his church.

He said he plans on keeping active by playing his instruments, such as the clarinet, oboe, flute and saxophone.

He started playing the clarinet but anymore he likes playing the oboe, because a person doesn’t find a lot of oboe players. But ironically out of all of the instruments he has in his office, the oboe belongs to the University, and he is now burdened with the task of finding a new one.

Thelen said he likes jazz and playing in ensembles and plans to do so during his free time after retiring.

“Some of my former students have been playing Thursday night jazz down at the Dioko coffee shop, and they’ve invited me to come sit in,” Thelen said. “I may do that.”

Thelen said he is not just leaving behind colleagues he is leaving behind treasured friends.

Thelen’s colleagues said he will be missed at Southern.

“Dr. Thelen has touched the lives of thousands of college students including both music majors and those of other disciplines,” said Dr. Al Carnine, professor of music. “His affable personality, infectious smile, warm sincerity and genuine concern for others will be greatly missed by all of us.”

One student, Aaron Scriven, senior secondary education major, has had Thelen as his advisor and instructor for several classes in his six years at Southern.

“He’s just an all-around great teacher,” Scriven said. “He’s there for you when you need something, and he’ll give you all the help you can get.”

Of all the people Thelen has been associated with in his 45 years of teaching, he would like to thank his wife for her support through volunteering with the Missouri Southern International Piano Competition and other aspects of his career.

“She’s been very supportive of my career here,” Thelen said.