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September 21, 2023

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‘Forward Falcon’ writer given day of recognition

Even though the University lost the Military Bowl last December, not everyone who was cheering for the Falcons was disappointed.

Along with students and staff who may have been watching the game, another person in California was watching. And for the first time, he heard the song he wrote for the University played by the marching band.

His name is Wayne Bohrnstedt and he wrote the “Forward Falcon” fight song. The song was first performed by the marching band in 1948, and this year is the 65th anniversary of the band playing the song.

Janet Parks, a retired faculty member, reached out to Bohrnstedt after writing a book with Ann Bowers about women in sports. They wanted to title their book “Forward Falcons” so Parks reached out to get his permission in 2005.

Parks said the two stayed in contact through email and several months ago, she got another email from him.

“It said, ‘last December, I watched Bowling Green play in the Military Bowl and I heard the song play three times,’” Parks said. “’So my sons and I decided it was time for a road trip to Bowling Green.’”

Bohrnstedt, at 90 years old, flew from California to Toledo Friday night and watched the football game against Toledo Saturday afternoon with his family.

“They are making this a very special day for him,” said Ann Bowers, an archivist in the University library.

Bohrnstedt said he’s been planning this for a while.

“The first time I heard the song played was at the bowl game last year,” he said. “I was very proud.”

Parks found talking with Bohrnstedt was easy when making contact about coming to the University.

“A more gracious person, you would never meet in your life,” Parks said. “This man was so kind to me. He is a very well respected musician nationally, very highly regarded.”

The University wants to honor him in some way for coming to the campus, said Director of the Marching Band Carol Hayward.

“At the pre-game show is when we are going to recognize him, after we play ‘Forward Falcons,’” Hayward said. “The half time show is dedicated to him. It’s called ‘Falcon Fantasia’ and it uses music from both the Fantasia movies.”

After working for the University for six years, Bohrnstedt left to work for the University of Redlands in California for 40 years until he retired, he said.

“I taught music, composition mostly,” he said.

President Mary Ellen Mazey decided to use his visiting the campus to declare Oct. 25 as Wayne Bohrnstedt Day.

“I’m very humbled,” Bohrnstedt said.

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