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Leonard Palmquist grew up in Langford, SD and received his bachelor’s degree from Northern State Teachers College in 1948. He went on to do graduate work at several universities and earned his master’s from Northern in 1956.

Palmquist taught music and other subjects in Langford, Plankinton, Clark, Aberdeen and Stratford public schools. He taught music history, applied organ and piano, exploring music, class piano and occasionally music theory at Northern State from 1955 to 1986. In 1976, Leonard and his son, David, an NSC graduate assistant at that time, introduced two courses to the music department which are still being taught to this day: Organ Literature, Registration and Materials and Class Guitar. He served as the faculty sponsor of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia for many years and as a violinist in the College-Civic Symphony until the last year of his life.

According to his daughter, Jane, Northern State played a big role in her father’s life, as well as the lives of the rest of the family. Palmquist and his wife, Alice, met at NSU, where each earned a music degree. Three of their four children also attained music or music education degrees from NSU. “I remember helping construct Gypsy Day floats as a child and as a college student…It was as a fifth grader, watching Dad make purple copy dittos of an exam that I decided to become a college professor,” she explained.

In addition to his many contributions at NSU, Palmquist was a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where he was organist and choir director from 1971 to 1988. He also was organist and choir director at Zion Lutheran Church from 1954 to 1968.


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