Wooster mourns passing of Nancy Ditmer, professor emerita of music

Nancy Ditmer, professor emerita of music

Nancy Ditmer, professor emerita of music at The College of Wooster, passed away on May 1, 2024, at the age of 74 in Wooster, Ohio. Her career at the College spanned 35 years, beginning in 1984 until her retirement in 2019.

Ditmer showed her passion for music education, taking on a myriad of duties that included directing the Scot Marching Band, Scot Symphonic Band, Jazz Ensemble; teaching courses in music education, conducting, and flute performance; supervising student teachers, and chairing the Department of Music. She also established the Wooster Music Camp, which brought local students in grades 6 through 12 along with public school music teachers to the College’s campus over the summer. Not only was this a valuable experience for young musicians, but it also served as a path for the music department to recruit and enroll new students.  

Under Ditmer’s leadership, the band saw immense growth, going from 80 members in her first year and peaking at 188 members in the mid-2000s. With her direction, the Scot Marching Band was described as a family with thousands of members over her 35-year tenure. This family included a diverse group of music majors and non-majors all coming together to bond with one another through their art. The band’s national tours brough Ditmer and her students to 235 concerts in 29 states, and as an advisor and mentor, she inspired more than 200 people to follow in her footsteps and enter the field of music education.  

Ditmer was also recognized off-campus for her dedication to music. Serving a variety of professional organizations, she advocated at the state and professional level for the inclusion of music education standards in public schools. Ditmer served as the president of the Ohio Music Education Association from 1996 to 1998 and president of the National Association for Music Education from 2012 to 2014. She received the OMEA’s Distinguished Service Award and an alumni achievement award from her alma mater, Capital University, for her contributions to the field.  

Ditmer graduated from Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in music education before receiving a master’s degree in music education from the University of Iowa. She also completed all required coursework for a doctorate in music education at the University of Iowa. Before coming to Wooster, Ditmer was a music teacher in the Arcanum Butler Local Schools from 1972 to 1980 and at Versailles Exempted Village Schools from 1980 to 1981. 

Among students and faculty alike, Ditmer was known for her kindness and enthusiasm for her field. As Brendan McBride ’20 remarked in a 2019 Wooster Weekly News article about Ditmer’s last concert before her retirement, “Ms. Ditmer is one of the most caring and passionate professors I have ever met here at Wooster. She isn’t only just a fantastic advisor, but an amazing friend as well.” In the same article, Brianna Schmidt ’20 described her as “an excellent mentor who cares deeply for her students and the band.”  

A testament to Ditmer’s lasting impact on her students, alumnus Jordan Alexander Key ’13, who majored in religious studies and music composition at Wooster and was a bagpiper in the Scot Marching Band, wrote a musical composition for bagpipes in Ditmer’s honor. The piece, titled 2/4 March in A Major Hexatonic—Professor Nancy E. Ditmer, can be found here.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, May 18 at 11 a.m. at Zion Lutheran Church, 301 North Market Street, Wooster. For those who are unable to attend in-person, the memorial service will also be livestreamed on Zion Lutheran Church’s YouTube and Facebook pages. Ditmer’s full obituary can be found here. 

Posted in News on May 8, 2024.