Ed Gerlach (BS '46)
From the time Ed Gerlach began piano lessons at the age of 5, he demonstrated his talent and love for music. He began college as an architectural student at Texas A&M, but after two years, transferred to Sam Houston on a music scholarship. He was asked to lead Sam’s dance band, which was eventually named Ed Gerlach and the Houstonians. This band was popular in the Huntsville community for social gatherings both on and off campus. The band stayed together until World War II began affecting the United States. Eleven members of the 17-piece band enlisted together in the Air Force at Ellington Field in an attempt to keep the group together. Gerlach performed weekly for cadet graduations at the Rice Hotel and during furlough the band performed at other venues in the Houston area. During this time, Gerlach formed two musically influential friendships with jazz legends Milt Larkin, trumpet, and Arnett Cobb, saxophone, who performed regularly in Houston’s Fourth Ward. After the war, Gerlach returned to Sam Houston, where he met Doris Conner (deceased), pianist for Sam Houston’s all-girl orchestra, whom he eventually married. They raised two daughters, and now, he has three granddaughters. He graduated in ’46 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Music, and she graduated in ’48 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education. After graduation, Gerlach performed with Hal McIntyre of the McIntyre Band and then was discovered by the Glenn Miller Orchestra and became their musical director and arranger. After traveling with the Miller Orchestra and making a movie in Hollywood, Gerlach returned to Houston, where he formed another orchestra and taught music at the University of Houston. He and his orchestra performed with Tony Bennett, Bob Hope, the Manhattan Transfer and other popular entertainers. At the age of 89, he is still active in the music industry and performs at the Petroleum Club and for private parties upon request.