By Doug Schroder


Music has been a part of Monroe Center resident Marilyn Quitno for much of her life. It started with music lessons at the age of 8-years old when she and her friend Nancy went to take lessons at Eva Fogleman’s home in Creston. Eva was a retired schoolteacher, and lessons were only 50 cents an hour. Eva always had cookies too, a definite plus that her students enjoyed. It is a tradition carried on by Marilyn today as she always has cookies for her student.

When Marilyn was 13 she got to learn on the pump organ at the Creston Methodist Church. She mastered it well enough to play at the church services and did so until she went to college in 1956.

Marilyn earned a B.A.S. in Elementary Education in college. While in college she had one music course where she learned how to chord.

“That class came in handy when teaching elementary students,” Marilyn said.

She added to her musical repertoire while in school as she took violin lessons during that time.

After graduation Marilyn went on to teach in different schools for many years. From 1993-97 she was the music teacher at Monroe Center School.

“Those were my favorite years of teaching,” commented Marilyn. “One year we did a Halloween program where the kids were all dressed in costume and we did Halloween-themed songs. I was dressed as a witch and while the children were performing I was making root beer during the show. It was in a cauldron so it looked like I was making a witches brew.”

Marilyn always wants to make music fun for her students, and she wants to make sure music is always there for them.

In the 1990’s Meridian was going to drop the music program and teachers were not allowed to send home notices about it to the parents. Marilyn would not have any of that, so fellow teacher Bonnie Brown and her went around to people’s houses in the District and got 500 signatures on a petition. Marilyn then presented the petition to the Meridian School District School Board. It was then decided not to drop music programs from the schools. Because of what she did the music programs were saved.

Marilyn also played a part in many music contests over the years, accompanying many students along the way.

“One year at a contest in Polo I accompanied 17 students there. I had to run up and down stairs to keep up as each student played. That was most challenging,” Marilyn recalled.

She has had many special students in her career with several playing in instrumental contests and winning first place.

One student went on to become a professional musician. Tim McKnight, who lives in San Diego now, is a music teacher, and conductor of a music class.

“He took lessons for me for seven years. His feet couldn’t touch the floor when he started,” remembered Marilyn.

On Marilyn’s 75th birthday, Tim and a lady vocalist came to Lindenwood Church and performed a concert for his mother Bev and Marilyn for their birthdays.

Many students are endeared to Mrs. Quitno. There was one time a mom told her that her son didn’t want to get out of school early for an appointment because he didn’t want to miss Mrs. Quitno’s class.

Another nice compliment Marilyn remembers is when a college student told her that her elementary kids were better at playing the recorder than the college students the college student had in class.

Marilyn retired from public school teaching in 2004. Still gives private lessons. New lessons start on Monday, Sept 19. Already 10 have signed up.

Marilyn has a recital with her students every year in May. The first recital was at her home in 1982, other than that they have all been at Monroe Center Union Church, except for one time when it was at Union Church in Monroe Center. She tries to include different instruments in her recitals. This year her grandson played the bagpipes.

For the last 10 years she has sponsored a Share the Music night at Creston St. John’s Lutheran Church, where she is also the organist.

In her retirement, Marilyn plans to continue working with Kids Club at her church (she started the club back in the 1950’s), she still substitute teaches at Rockford Schools, and of course continues to give music lessons. She first started giving lesson around 1976.

In closing, Marilyn had this to say:

“Over the years I’ve had many experiences with students and music and I give thanks to the Lord for allowing me to have all those experiences.”


Marilyn Quitno (R) and her grandson Nathan Rohrer (L) pose for a picture after her recital last spring. He played the bagpipes. COURTESY PHOTO Tempo

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