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High school auditorium to be named for Jeannette grad, Big Band star Vaughn Monroe

| Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The auditorium at Jeannette High School will be renamed in honor of Vaughn Monroe — a 1929 Jeannette graduate who wrote the district's alma mater and went on to become a nationally well-known musician.

Bill Hoffman and Karen Peltier, members of the Jeannette Class of 1969, are helping to plan their 45th class reunion and they attended the Jeannette School Board meeting this month to ask for the auditorium to be renamed.

Hoffman said as his class prepares to celebrate their reunion, they wanted to do something for the school and that is where this idea originated.

“(Monroe) had five number-one hits, sold 5 million records in 1944, had 25 top 10 songs and three number-one albums,” said Hoffman. “He has two stars on the walk of fame.”

Peltier has been in contact with Monroe's daughters, Candace and Christina, who expressed their joy at the idea of the auditorium being named for their father.

“His daughters are honored we're asking for this,” said Peltier. “He talked about Jeannette all his life, it was home to him.”Peltier said Monroe's daughters would like to be a part of any official dedication ceremony to rename the auditorium.

“They are excited that he will be honored in the town he graduated from,” Peltier said.

Hoffman said the Class of 1969 would like to be part of any planning for the dedication and would like to help to purchase a plaque for the newly christened performance space.

The school board voted unanimously in favor of renaming the auditorium. No plans have been announced regarding an official dedication ceremony.

Monroe took up the trumpet around age 10 or 11 and focused on singing and learning all he could about music throughout his school years. The family lived on North Second Street in Jeannette and he was elected as senior class president of the Jeannette Class of 1929. He wrote the Jeannette High School alma mater, which is still sung to this day.

Monroe met Marian Baughman while attending high school in Jeannette, and they began dating when she met up with him in New York 12 years after graduation. They decided to come back to Jeannette and were married on April 2, 1940.

Marian was the granddaughter of John P. Baughman, one of the early businessmen and one of the first to serve as burgess in the early days of the borough of Jeannette.

Monroe formed his own band in 1940 — the Vaughn Monroe Orchestra made its debut near Boston at Siler's Ten Acres.

Monroe went on to be one of the most popular Big Band leaders in the country throughout the 1940s and early 1950s. He gave up his orchestra in 1953 and continued to perform the rest of his life as a single personality.

His last public appearance in Jeannette was in 1969 when he was guest of honor at the annual Jeannette school picnic parade.

Monroe died May 21, 1973, and Marian Monroe died at the age of 101 last November.

Kristie Linden is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at klinden@tribweb.com or 724-838-5154.

John Howard contributed to this report.

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