|Bob Briske passed away July 28 at the age of 87. Briske served in the position from DCI’s inception in 1972 through 1994 and was inducted into the DCI Hall of Fame in 1988. |
As contest director, Briske methodically ran each of the shows during several years. He could be a bit gruff and focused on the field as well as behind it, but full of laughter, outside of the stadium. His word was the law and it didn’t matter to him to whom he was talking. He was well respected for playing no favorites and for making everything operate smoothly.
Bob Briske started his drum corps career as a member of the Sheffield Boys Club Drum and Bugle Corps in Chicago, where he met his wife Joan, who preceded him in death. Later, he marched in the Logan Square Drum and Bugle Corps in Chicago and after aging out, joined the three-time National Championship Skokie Indians Senior Drum and Bugle Corps. He also managed the Skokie Indians and the Norwood Park Imperials (junior corps), as well as the Mel Tierney American Legion Post Drum and Bugle Corps (which eventually became the Des Plaines Vanguard). On top of that, he ran the Illinois Drum Corps Association, which in the pre-DCI years ran about two-dozen shows in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin.
When DCI was formed in 1972, Briske was recruited to direct the first championship event, held in Whitewater, Wisconsin. He was responsible for making all arrangements for both the stadium and corps housing, setting up practice fields, arranging meals, and coordinating the field show. When a huge housing problem developed just prior to the 1975 DCI World Championships in Philadelphia, he called the mayor of the city and the University of Pennsylvania athletic directors and succeeded in getting the Philadelphia Civic Center, the city library, and a number of gymnasiums open for the corps.
Briske stated that he did everything he could think of doing prior to a contest so the directors of each corps only had to worry about their own corps’ competition. He said, “It is especially gratifying when the director of a corps writes me after the competition season is over to say ‘thanks.’” But his favorite part of the job was when he could “sneak up in the stands and watch thousands of people enjoying the show.”
Briske once stated, “I have made friends all over the country and I know I’ll never lose them.” Indeed, countless drum corps fans have lost a true friend.
A memorial service for Briske will be held on Saturday, August 27 at 11:00 a.m. CT at the Edison Park Lutheran Church, 6626 N. Oliphant Ave., Chicago.