TBDBITL Alumni Club

The Best Damn Band In The Land - The Ohio State University Marching Band Alumni

David Richard Kortier

July 23, 1945 - August 4, 2023

David Richard Kortier, of Duluth, Minnesota, died at age 78 on August 4, 2023, as the result of a stroke. He was born on July 23, 1945, in Toledo, Ohio, to Dorothy (Miller) and Dawson Kortier. As a child growing up in Sylvania, Ohio, he demonstrated the skills and “can-do” attitude for making and repairing things that would become the foundation for his career as a widely-respected harp maker.

David earned Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. He stayed in Columbus after graduation and played bassoon professionally in the Columbus Symphony. He and four other OSU graduates were founding members of the Early Interval Consort, a performing ensemble specializing in music and instruments of Medieval and Renaissance Europe. David made several of the stringed instruments used by the group.

In 1982, he moved to Duluth, where he pursued a career as a self-employed maker of musical instruments. He made violas da gamba (Renaissance stringed instruments), before switching his focus to harps. Thanks to a collaboration with harpist Ann Heymann, with whom he traveled to Ireland to study historical instruments, David developed an international reputation as a maker of wire-strung Gaelic harps. He took immense satisfaction from his work, saying, “Working with beautiful woods, carving and shaping the wood, and hearing the sounds the instruments make, this is what matters most to me.”

For several years, David was contrabassoonist with the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra and played bassoon with the St. Scholastica Center for Early Music Orchestra. More recently, he took special pleasure in playing recorders with friends on Friday afternoons.

He was a member of the Duluth Fiber Guild, participating regularly in spinning and flax-preparation events. “My absolute favorite thing about spinning,” he said, “is being in spinning circles. I enjoy sharing this activity with the nicest people you could hope to meet.”

David was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, William Kortier. He is survived by his wife, Penny Schwarze; sister, Mary L. Beach; daughter, Jessica Vandemark; and sisters-in-law Judy Schwarze (Tom Sanders) and Mary Schwarze. He is also survived by Barbara Herzog, nieces and nephews, and honorary family member Shelley Gruskin. Last but not least, he is survived by Fritzy, the most recent of many cats he rescued and loved.

We mourn the loss of a good-natured, even-tempered, and contented man, who always aspired to have “an ordinary day,” even as he accomplished extraordinary things.

A gathering for David’s friends is being planned.

David was a member of the marching band in 1963. He played Sousaphone in K-Row.