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Rev. George C. Wiskirchen, C.S.C., 76, died suddenly on Tuesday, May 17, in Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center, South Bend.

He was born to George and Julia (Seifert) Wiskirchen on October 14, 1928, in Quincy, IL. He attended St. Boniface School and Notre Dame High School, coming to the University of Notre Dame in 1946 as a candidate for Holy Cross.

He made his novitiate at Sacred Heart in South Bend and pronounced first vows August 16, 1948. Upon graduation from the University of Notre Dame in 1951 he began the study of theology at Holy Cross College, Washington, D.C.

Ordained to the priesthood with his classmates on June 8, 1955, Fr. George was assigned to teach at the newly opened Notre Dame High School for Boys in Niles, IL. He was one of the "founding fathers" of that venerable institution.

Fr. George taught religion and music. He started the band program at Notre Dame High School and soon earned a national reputation for his work in high school music. He was a pioneer in high school jazz education and won numerous awards for his work with students and teachers.

His work with the Notre Dame High School Jazz Band, the Melodons, was critically acclaimed by the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and by leading jazz artists and magazines. During the 17 years he worked at Notre Dame High School, he was at various times director of Northwestern's Jazz Workshop and an instructor in jazz education methods there as well as at the Eastman School of Music, the University of Denver, and elsewhere. While at the Niles Notre Dame High School, he also earned a master's degree in musical education at Northwestern.

In 1972, Fr. George took his expertise to the University of Notre Dame where he was a residence hall rector, teacher in the music department, assistant director of the marching band and head of the University's jazz band. He took that band to national prominence.

In 2002, he retired from teaching. After experiencing some health problems he moved to Holy Cross House. Each year, as the marching band from the University of Notre Dame gets ready for a new season, they march over to Holy Cross House and play for Fr. George and his fellow religious.

Fr. George was preceded in death by his parents, George and Julia Wiskirchen, and a sister-in-law, Jeanne Wiskirchen. He is survived by his brother, Joseph Wiskirchen of St. Louis, Missouri, and a niece, Julie Wiskirchen of Los Angeles, California.

Viewing will be held for Fr. Wiskirchen in the Chapel of Moreau Seminary, University of Notre Dame, on Sunday, May 22, from 3:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., with a wake service at 7:30 p.m. The funeral Mass will be celebrated at the Sacred Heart Basilica, Notre Dame, on Monday, May 23, at 3:30 p.m. Kaniewski Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

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