For more than three decades, music students in Redwood Falls honed their instrumental skills under the direction of Gary Bestmann.

Bestmann, a 1963 graduate from St. Clair High School, earned a degree in music education in 1966 from Mankato State University and two years later also earned a Masters degree in music performance also from Mankato State.

Music, said Bestmann, has been a significant part of his life since he was young, and his love for music was evident throughout his career as an educator in the Redwood Falls and Redwood Area school districts.

That passion has now led him to being inducted to the Redwood Area School District Hall of Fame. 

Bestmann said it is nice to be recognized with this honor, adding, however, he said that his fellow educators, the administration and the school board all helped to make his role a lot easier.

Prior to starting his job in Redwood Falls, Bestmann spent time in the U.S. Army. He enlisted in 1968 and became part of the Army band. Following his basic training Bestmann was stationed at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas where he performed with the band and served in various leadership positions.

It was while he was serving in Kansas that Bestmann was contacted by Don Zschunke inquiring whether or not he was interested in a role as part of the school’s music department. Bestmann was familiar with Redwood Falls, as he had done his student teaching in that district.

From June 1971 until the end of the 2002-03 school year, Bestmann worked with various age groups as they developed musically.

“Redwood Falls is a very progressive school,” said Bestmann, adding he has always appreciated the community as a whole. That also led him to get more involved, and he served in various capacities.

He was a member of the Friends of the Park, the Redwood Area Concert Association and the city park and recreation commission.

Bestmann and his wife, Donna, have been married for 47 years, and both of their children, Erik and Leah, are Redwood Valley High School graduates.