Decatur Municipal Band honors retiring master of ceremonies

DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) — In the Decatur Municipal Band, the music never stops — it just flows on to the next generation.

But on Tuesday night, the music briefly hit pause to commemorate the voice that connected song after song for more than 30 years.

Shirley Kistler's best instrument has always been her impeccable vocal delivery and tireless dedication to musical research. As master of ceremonies, her job is to get to know the piece and the musicians performing it.

"I sit right there next to the band and I watch them and listen to them," she said. "I, for two hours, am in musical heaven."

Kistler's retirement leaves a big hole in the 161-year-old group — one Steve Schepper knows will be difficult to fill.

"Replacing Shirley is impossible," Schepper said. "She's got this personality you fall in love with immediately."

Kistler appreciates the compliments, but says the band will be just fine with out her. After all, the music just flows into the next song of the season.

"It's time to go," Kistler said. "I know the band will carry on without me. No on is irreplaceable."

If you would like to nominate someone for the Spirit of Central Illinois, email Deron Molen ( or click here.