Alexander Sidorowicz, dean of TSU College of Fine Arts, Communication

December 11, 1996|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Stephens Hall, Towson State University, 8000 York Road, for Alexander E. Sidorowicz, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication since 1991.

Dr. Sidorowicz was killed Saturday in an automobile accident near Queenstown. He was 49 and a resident of Harper House in the Village of Cross Keys.

As dean, he oversaw the theater, dance, art, music and speech and mass communication departments, an enrollment of nearly 1,900, a full-time faculty of 79 and 100 part-time teachers.

He had a passion for cooking and sometimes rode to school on his other passion, a Kawasaki ZX900 Sportbike.

"Alex was a colorful individual and performer as well as an outstanding dean," said Hoke L. Smith, president of TSU.

Dr. Smith described him as a "man of passion" and credited him with improving a number of TSU's programs and "taking art to other off-campus constituencies."

A man of enormous energy and a popular figure on campus, Dr. Sidorowicz composed music, played the clarinet, saxophone and flute and was a dancer.

His campus office, which he always described as nothing more than a coatroom, was jammed with the relics of an active career. He kept a clarinet and amplifier there and spontaneously would play a jazzy rendition of a song.

"I guess you would call it eclectic -- it had a certain lived-in appearance," Carl Schmidt, chairman of the music department, said of the office.

Dr. Schmidt said that Dr. Sidorowicz's musical compositions were known nationally.

Among Dr. Sidorowicz's recent works, his musical composition for clarinet, voice and piano based on the poems of Stephan Crane was performed with the Towson Chamber Players in October, the same month that a choreographic work, "Is that all there is " premiered with the Towson Ensemble Dancers at the Theater Project in Baltimore.

"When he jumped on stage, rolling around and playing his clarinet, I was simply astounded," said Philip Arnoult, founder and director of the Theater Project. "I was totally transformed by his performance."

Mr. Arnoult was in Budapest, Hungary, completing the arrangements for a TSU performing arts graduate program that Dr. Sidorowicz had helped plan, when he learned of his death.

"He was always reaching beyond Towson. He was a graceful man who had become a major force in the local arts scene," Mr. Arnoult said.

Dr. Sidorowicz thought of himself mainly as a teacher and composer who brought a "creative perspective into the board meeting," said an October article in the Towerlight, the TSU newspaper.

"What keeps me alive is my continual involvement with the creative arts and with the students. It keeps me viable, keeps me from going stir-crazy from the paperwork," he said.

Dr. Sidorowicz was born and raised in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., the son of a second-generation Polish coal miner and a Lithuanian mother. His parents saw to it that he was given a musical education as a child.

He earned a bachelor of science degree in music education from Mansfield State University in 1969, a master's degree in music performance from Indiana University in 1973, and a doctorate in music composition and theory from Kent State University in 1981.

He began his teaching career in Livonia and Rochester, N.Y., and, in 1974, was named assistant professor of music at Bemidji State University in Minnesota. From 1976 to 1981, he was chairman of the music department and assistant professor at Hiram College in Ohio and from 1981 to 1984 was assistant dean and associate professor of music at Ithaca (N.Y.) College. He was director of the Division of Music and Theater Arts at Bradley University in Illinois from 1984 until 1987, when he became professor of music at the University of Texas.

He was a golfer and survived being struck by lightning on the golf course. "He used to say, 'If I can survive being hit by lightning, I can survive anything,' " Mr. Schmidt said.

He is survived by his wife, the former Ruth Emery Haswell, whom he married in 1973; two stepsons, Ralph W. Haswell Jr. of New York City and Dr. James E. Haswell of Westport, Conn.; three stepdaughters, Patricia C. Haswell of St. Paul, Minn., Kathryn A. Craven of Las Vegas and Melissa R. Haswell-Elkins of Brisbane, Australia; a sister, Joanne Austin of West Wyoming, Pa.; his father, Edward Sidorowicz of Wyoming, Pa.; and six grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to the TSU Foundation, COFAC Endowed Scholarship Fund/Alex Sidorowicz, 8000 York Road, Towson 21252.

Pub Date: 12/11/96

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