George Hilger - Hall of Fame 2019

Created on Monday, 13 May 2019 11:15:15

Dear Cadets Hall of Fame,

I would like to support the nomination of Garfield Cadet George Hilger for election into the Cadets Hall of Fame. I marched with George in 1976-77. George grew up in Garfield, NJ so he took great pride in being a Garfield Cadet. I’m unsure if he marched in the Plebes. He was a leader, a mentor to new members, by welcoming them or helping them practice music or marching. George was a “team player”, dedicated and encouraged everyone whether in the horn line, drumline, or color guard. George was always a positive person, rarely in a bad mood and always smiling. His smile was always one of his best attributes. He was respectful and protective of the girls in the corps, quite the gentleman. His love for the Cadets was so obvious as his face always lit up talking about the corps. He was a great ambassador for the corps, talking with other members of other corps. His enthusiasm was always contagious. Lastly, he was a great baritone horn player. He was a 1976 DCI Soloist winner. I can also recall George being a “cheerleader” and encouraging the color guard horn players. When most of the other horn players tolerated us, George would listen to us play and applaud and give us confidence. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of being elected into the Cadets Hall of Fame.


Cheryl Beattie Koehler
Alumni color guard member 1976-1978


Dear members of the Cadet Hall of Fame Committee,

I would like to support the nomination for George Hilger to the Cadets Hall of Fame class of 2019.  He always showed what it was like to be a Cadet. I marched with George from 1973-1975. I always found George to be a class act within the corps and the outside world.  He was always willing to help the younger members and new members that joined the corps. His leadership always was his strong point. He maintained class at all times. Everything George did for the corps he did without wanting recognition.  I am proud to call George and friend and he is missed by all.


For Holy Name Shall Always Be,

Beth McGarril


Dear Members of the Cadets Hall of Fame Committee,

The Cadets are known for their championship heritage, the class with which they carry themselves both on and off the field, their sense of respect for each other and their fellow competitors, their professionalism whether in victory or defeat, their innovation, legendary work ethic, and their iconic uniform. I write this letter today to say that perhaps no other Cadet exemplified these Cadet qualities, or wore the uniform better than George Hilger.

George was a member of the Cadets from 1971 to 1979. He reflected the very best of the Cadet ideal. He was a tireless worker, a world class player, a dedicated leader, and a “rock” within the Cadet organization. George was our Horn Sergeant, and as a former Drum Sergeant with the Cadets, I can tell you that George set the standard of how to lead within the organization. He inspired me to be a better leader. Never concerned with his own recognition, he instead focused on developing those around him into better Cadets. His marching skills were tremendous, no doubt magnified by his high level of physical fitness. Due to his imposing stature, without raising his voice or any show of force, he could send a clear message to surrounding corps that the Cadets were not to be toyed with. We all looked up to George as our leader within the corps ranks because he embodied everything that the Cadets stood for, and still stand for today.

As a player, simply stated, he was the best. He led the lower brass section and was recognized by Drum Corps International as the world champion individual lower brass performer in 1975. He was also featured as a soloist within the brass section for many years.

Sadly, George was taken from us far too early in life. We can never replace him, but we can enshrine him. I sincerely ask that the members of the Committee vote to induct George Hilger into the Cadets Hall of Fame, Class of 2019.


For Holy Name Shall Always Be,

Pat Zampetti Cadets
Hall of Fame, Class of 2016


My name is Joani Meisner (Cantaluppi). I was in the color guard from 75 to 78.

One of the first people I met when I joined the corps was George Hilger. He made me feel so welcome considering I was nervous and scared.

George always gave 100 percent on and off the field. A true leader and one hell of a horn player.

He truly deserves this honor.

He left us far to soon.


For holy name shall always be.

Joani Meisner


I knew George, his brother Paul and sister Karen when they were with the Cadet Plebe organization during the late 60’s – early 70’s. This was during the time when our Plebe Organization had separated their members in 1969, with the majority going to form the Garfield Epoch’s, and the minority staying with the Cadet organization. A tough choice, but the Hilger’s had their eye upon moving up to the Cadet competing Corps. George got in for the 1971 season (I believe), with Paul and Karen joining the ranks shortly thereafter.

George was an incredible horn player, with ambitions to become a music major in college. By the mid-70’s, George had progressed to become a stellar baritone player and soloist. What most of the Alumni may not know – for the 1977 season, George was asked to be co-Drum Major with me for the season. He turned down the offer, stating that he needed to keep playing the baritone because he wanted to be a music performance major in college.

With that said, George continued to play the sweetest baritone horn of our time, ultimately winning the 1977 DCI Individual Award for Baritone. He made it look so easy.

George had an intensity about him. Always leading by example, and over-producing whenever possible. I think that’s why George, and my brother-in-law Warren Corman (also a former baritone player), hit it off so well... a model Cadet that leads by example, for the good of the Corps.

Sadly, George’s life was cut short as a young adult.  I miss him, but every now and then, I reflect upon our time in the Corps together.  The 1976 season comes to mind, and the concert number we played for the first half of the season – “HANK’S OPENER”.   I wish I had a recording of that concert, with George’s feature solo. It reminded me of the tone quality heard from the old Skyliner recording (late 50’s/early 60’s) of John Simpson playing Rhapsody in Blue . . .  Simply beautiful . . . and George was playing with this quality and professionalism as a young teenager in a Junior Corps.

So, it is with the deepest respect and honor for me to fully support the nomination of GEORGE HILGER, posthumously, to the 2019 class of the Cadets Hall of Fame.



Greg Cinzio
Soprano Member and Drum Major (1967-1977)


Dear Members of the Committee,

Some of you may know that this is not my first letter in support of George Hilger. The Cadets Hall of Fame received that a couple of years ago and I am most gratified to see that his name appears again among this year's candidates.

I was fortunate to spend the better part of eight seasons on the Garfield staff and watched George grow from a shy Plebe into a DCI Individual Champion. None of that had much to do with me. That young man was the single hardest-working and dedicated student I have ever had, to this very day. Those of you who marched with him will confirm that.

As intense and demanding as he was on himself, George always offered assistance to the other less experienced performers and constantly volunteered to help staff. In short, he went above and beyond the call.

I have spent time with a lot of Cadets over the years, many of whom rightfully achieved great fame and notoriety, but none surpassed George Hilger with respect to epitomizing what it means to be a Cadet. His selection to the Hall of Fame will bring credit to the organization, just as he did when he wore maroon.


My very best to you all.

Frank Dorritie
Garfield Cadets instructor 1970-77


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