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In honor of his late wife, this man brings new orchestra to Flint

University of Michign-Flint News Service

There's a new orchestra starting up in Flint.

For decades, the University of Michigan-Flint has been trying to get an all-student orchestra together.

It shelved the idea back in the 1990s due to lack of interest.

This year, a new student string ensemble is up and running. And that got the music department thinking, maybe this was their year.

That's when emeritus professor Walker Fesmire showed up. He's giving the music department a $100,000 gift.

So this fall, the school’s first-ever all-student orchestra will perform an original piece in his honor.

Fesmire says the gift is in memory of his late wife, Chieko “Peggy” Fesmire. She played with the Hiroshima Symphony.

"She loved music,” says Fesmire.

“So when she died, I was looking for something that I could honor her by. And as I understand it, they're just trying to get the campus orchestra organized right now. So I'm sure she would be very happy."

What she wouldn’t love, however, is all the attention the gift is creating.  

Fesmire says she wasn’t one to seek out the spotlight.

"She would object to it. But I don't care. She's not here, so I'm gonna overrule her," he laughs.

Fesmire says they were married for 56 years.  

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health and the COVID-19 pandemic.