Updated April 2011
The Maplewood Glee Club – Our 65nd Year
Current club membership is approximately 40 singers. Rehearsals are from 7:45 until 9:45 p.m. Monday evenings at the DeHart center, 120 Burnett Avenue, Maplewood, NJ 07040 (Click for Map).
Please see our Concerts page for upcoming events.
The Maplewood Glee Club came into being 65 years ago because of dreams a World War II soldier serving in Asia. Eight thousand miles from his home in Maplewood, Wes Pollitt wanted to perpetuate the fellowship of his college glee club days when he returned home. That prompted him to exchange his ideas through correspondence with many Maplewood townspeople.
Interest built, and in the fall of 1946 a group of about twenty men began to harmonize at meetings of the Maplewood American Legion Post No. 80. To make the group into a Glee Club more members and a permanent director were needed. To that end the Glee Club was launched with the sponsorship of the Community Recreation Service and the financial assistance of the Legion. A constitution and by‑laws were enacted, and officers elected. Ralph Hunter (later an assistant director of the men's chorus at the Radio City Music Hall) volunteered to lead the new group.
The Club's first few seasons were difficult with a high turnover of personnel. The club was not strong enough to venture its own concert program but made spot appearances before civic groups and participated in the annual Music Week celebration.
On January 28, 1949, the Club held its first formal concert. With that concert came the feeling of pride of accomplishment ‑ the Maplewood Glee Club was now more than a soldier's dream. The following fall the two concerts per year policy was established, the repertoire expanded, and community support grew. In the intervening years the club has had several directors, accompanists, and over 500 members.
In 1971 at the urging of John Plumer, president of the club, the club began recognizing local music students with the creation of a Music Scholarship. After his death in 1974 the award became the John A. Plumer Memorial Scholarship. The value of the award has increased over the years to the present $1,500. Since 1971, the Club has awarded more than fifty scholarships to local area high school students. For current information on Scholarships, please see our Scholarships page.
Through the years the Glee Club has sung numerous private concerts at nursing homes, veterans hospitals, and retirement homes. Each year the club performs for the it sings at Winchester Gardens Continuing Care Retirement Centerth Ward Homestead in November, and Carols throughout Overlook Hospital in mid December.
There have been many memorable highlights in the development of the Club. Those that we note as outstanding include:
Now, in our sixty-fifth year the Club is as strong as ever. Our hope is that we will continue to provide the community with a glee club of superior quality; continue to support young musicians through the John Plumer scholarship awards; and foster new and better friendships through the fellowship of good singing.
A Little More On Two of Our Distinguished Members:
WESLEY P. POLLITT, the founder of the Maplewood Glee Club, had a career marked by initiative, enthusiasm and apparently boundless energy. After graduating from Columbia High School, he entered University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. His undergraduate activities in drama, music, athletics, and student government earned him recognition as an outstanding member of the Class of 1940. Following five years active duty in World War II as an Artillery Battery Commander, and special studies at Princeton, he served as a Military Government Commissioner in Korea. When he left active service he joined the Army Reserve, from which he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1961.
That same year he was elected to the first of his three 3‑years as a Maplewood Township Committeeman. While commuting to N.Y. City where he was a corporate Vice President and Secretary Wes continued to be involved in Maplewood community life. He served as President of the Board of Health; as a Trustee of the Drug Abuse Council and of the Child Guidance Clinic; as a member of the Official Board of Morrow Memorial Church; as a Commissioner of the Community Pool Authority; as Grand Marshall for 15 years of Memorial Day Exercises; and in various capacities in scouting, fraternal, social and charitable organizations throughout the Township. During his wartime service in the Pacific, he fantasized a Maplewood Glee Club. Upon his return, he made his dream a reality, and sang with the club he founded for over 25 years. The Club owes its launching and much of its subsequent success to Wes's dedication as an active singer and administrator.
JOHN A. PLUMER, for whom the Maplewood Glee Club's Music scholarship is named was born in Massachusetts in 1918. He graduated from Lawrence Academy, attended Boston University, and continued study at the University of Pittsburgh. At the outbreak of World War II he enlisted in the United States Army and was appointed to Officers' Candidate School. As a commissioned officer he served overseas for almost three years and was decorated for service in the European and Mediterranean campaigns. At the end of the war he transferred to the Active Reserve and later retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
It was John who promoted the Club's recognition of local music students through the awarding of a Glee Club Music Scholarship. As a continuing memorial to his efforts, this award now bears his name.
Picture from our 1986 concert: