This past year, we lost two important pillars of the Vanguard organization and its history. Don and Ginny Koester passed peacefully on June 27th and February 1st of 2021 respectively. Together they served the Vanguard organization from 1970-1999 and briefly from 2009-2011.
Their time spent with Vanguard was truly a family affair as they supported their son, former corps director JW Koester, throughout his involvement in the organization and later their grandchildren, Sean Lanoie and Laura Koester-Lindsey, as marching members. They spent many years on the road with the A-Corps and Cadet Corps throughout the summer, hosted members from out of town, and continued their volunteer efforts in the off season.
Both Don and Ginny worked in the bingo hall and helped members to pay off their tour fees. Don served on several committees including the Bingo Committee, Pacific Procession Committee, Building Maintenance and Fleet Committee, served as the Booster Club President, and was a member of the Board of Directors for several years. He drove vehicles on tour for both corps, including the souvies RV and Bus 3, better known as “Charlotte.” Don also assisted in building the first Miss Amana food truck as well as the first two souvie trailers.
Ginny began the first souvenir sales as a fundraiser and later elevated the line of products from a single shirt to a variety of items and pioneered the show shirt concept. She was the first to take the souvie business on the road and became a familiar face at shows, standing inside the famous drum souvenir trailer. Ginny is perhaps most known for her time spent sewing for both the A-Corps and Cadet Corps. She made any and everything that was asked of her including uniforms, costumes, flags, props, stick bags, percussion accessories, flag bags, and patches onto jackets.
Their time spent with the Vanguard was very special to the entire Koester family and included some of their most cherished memories. While they will be missed dearly, their legacy of service lives on in those who continue to serve the organization for the benefit of the Vanguard performers.