In memory of two big fans of the band

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In memory of two big fans of the band

UNL graduate honors his late wife’s parents by creating an endowment that will provide stipends each year to two outstanding members of their beloved Cornhusker Marching Band.

Laurine and Duane Zastrow loved their game-day ritual: They’d wait outside the stadium for the Cornhusker Marching Band to arrive and then they’d cheer as the band marched inside.

The Zastrows, who lived in Bellevue, were devoted Cornhusker fans. They had season tickets. They traveled to away games and bowl games. They’d done this ever since the days of Bill Glassford, who was head Husker coach from 1949 to 1955.

To them, the Cornhusker Marching Band epitomized the spirit of Cornhusker football.

“Whether the football team was winning or losing on the field, the University of Nebraska’s marching band was always steady in their spirit,” according to son-in-law Dr. Gary Cook, who was married to their only child, Janet Cook.

Duane worked as a hog buyer for many years in the Omaha Livestock Market for Wilson and Company, while Laurine was a devoted wife and mother. After Duane died in 1998, Laurine moved to Maryland to be with Gary and Janet.

Together, Gary and Janet talked about creating an endowment for the Cornhusker Marching Band in their will to honor her parents.

Gary and Janet were big fans of the marching band, too. But in 2013, before they could create the award, Janet was diagnosed with gallbladder cancer. She died two years later.

“We had a beautiful marriage,” Gary says. “We were lovers of antiques and art.”

They’d met at UNL. Gary came to Lincoln from Springview, Nebraska, and Janet grew up in Lincoln. When they met, Gary was working on his master’s in speech and drama at UNL and Janet  was working on her bachelor’s in speech and drama. Gary went on to earn his doctorate in theater from UNL and Janet earned her master’s in education from UNL. Gary then worked as a faculty member at UNL while Janet taught for Lincoln Public Schools. After nine years in Lincoln, they moved to Maryland, where he worked for Frostburg State College and she worked at Allegany College.

But they’d return to Nebraska and to Husker games over the years to visit her parents as well as his parents, who also had season tickets.

“We never lost our ties with home,” Gary says. “And when I say ‘home,’ I mean Nebraska and the university.”

Recently, Gary decided it was time to create the Duane W. and Laurine F. Zastrow Marching Band Awards Endowment.

The interest from the $30,000 endowment will provide cash stipends each year to one outstanding male and one outstanding female member of the Cornhusker Marching Band, with priority going to seniors. The recipients will be chosen by the band and by faculty of the Glenn Korff School of Music.

Director of Bands Carolyn Barber says she is grateful.

Endowments of this sort, she says, perpetually enrich the band program by supporting the students who embody the Cornhusker spirit.

“Dr. Cook’s generous gift in honor of the Zastrows,” she says, “celebrates the past even as it invests in the future.”

Giving back in memory of his parents-in-law, Gary says, makes him feel good. He knows it would have made his wife happy, too.

“In some small way, I can help that band,” he says. “I have such a wonderfully warm heart for that band.”

Needs and opportunities are ever-changing at Nebraska, and through the N Fund, you choose to support what you think is most important. The N Fund allows alumni and friends to contribute to priority funds that support specific Nebraska colleges, as well as broader areas of need like student scholarships, faculty development and campus libraries.

One hundred percent of all gifts to the N Fund are used to improve the quality of a Nebraska education. By focusing on specific priority areas, we can advance the mission of the university, make private donations reach much further and ultimately help more driven and deserving students.

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln would not be what it is today without the support of alumni and friends. Please make your gift today, and make a difference for Nebraska students.

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