Chartering the Chorus

The year was 1948 when the Longmont Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society was chartered. At that time the Society was known as “The Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing”  (SPEBSQSA), A quartet called The Swedes was instrumental in organizing that first group of men in Longmont to join  the then ten-year old Society. The Swedes quartet was made up of Sid Fredstrom, a farmer; Lew Branch, an electrical contractor; Clarence Johnson, a farmer and Albert James, a teacher. Albert James was a prominent high school speech and drama teacher with a musical background and became the chapter's first chorus director. His name now appears on the Longmont High School Auditorium (Albert James Auditorium).

The Swedes had already sung together for years when they heard about the Barbershop Society and started the task of forming a chapter. The chapter was organized in February 1948 and the charter night program was held on April 24, 1948 with 65 members. The chapter is now over 75 years old. Throughout those 75 years, many prominent businessmen have passed through the ranks of the chapter, providing the leadership and support that has helped the chapter to survive through its many ups and downs. Among them were Dr. Vernon Golden, Stewart Golden, Dr. Mitchell Burgess, Ray Potter, Ralph Castle, Lew Branch, Dr. Byron (Bud) Yost and Dr. Don Wilson. Today, the chapter has members who have careers in many fields, but no barbers!

In the 75 years of existence, the Longmont Chapter membership has ranged from 12 to over 65 with a few dedicated men staying on to keep the chapter going. One of those men, Ralph Castle, who owned the little gas station at the corner of Mountain View and Main Street, joined the chapter in 1950 and was active until his death in 1998. Castle, who passed away at the age of 92, was an active member of the Longmont Chapter longer than any other member (48 years) at that time. David Waddell now has the record for longevity in the Longmont Chapter with 55 years, however, Bob Grigsby, who was a Real Estate Broker, had over 50 years in the Society when he passed, but some of those years were spent in other Society chapters in the eastern United States.


Longs Peak Chorus Music Directors

In 1979, Jim Halen, who lived in Loveland and was a United Airline pilot, started directing the chorus. He directed the chorus for 10 years from 1979 to 1989. The Chorus then brought in John Coffin from Denver who directed the chorus another 14 years, until 2004. Both Jim and John said they didn’t want any compensation except possibly the payment of chapter dues. They both were very good directors.

The Chorus was very fortunate to hire Chris Vaughn, lead singer of the 2004 International Champion quartet, Gotcha, who took over the director’s duties in 2004 and held the job for eight years.  Jay Dougherty followed as director when Chris had to move back east for his job. Jay directed the chorus for four years. Following Jay was Johnny Bugarin, a student of Jay’s, who directed the chorus until Ron Black took over in 2020.

The chorus has had good, talented directors for 44 years, one of the few chapters in the Society that has been lucky enough to have that caliber of chorus director for that many years!