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Ripon College remembers legacy of alumnus Al Jarreau

RIPON (WLUK) -- Jazz legend and Wisconsin native Al Jarreau died Sunday.

However, his legacy continues to live on, including here in Northeast Wisconsin. Jarreau was a Milwaukee native and attended Ripon College. He graduated in 1962, and made several trips back, visiting the campus.

Throughout Ripon College, it's evident that Al Jarreau left a lasting impact.

"This morning in my jazz history class, what am I going to play first? Al Jarreau," Kurt Dietrich, Professor of Music at Ripon College, said.

During Al Jarreau's time at Ripon College, he had a variety of interests. He was a psychology major and played on the basketball team. But some of his first public performances were in the school's student union, with his signing group, "The Indigos."

"He really discovered himself musically when he was here in Ripon," Zach Messitte, President of Ripon College, said.

Since Jarreau graduated, going on to become a world-famous Jazz musician, he returned to Ripon College many times.

Dietrich said, "That's the dream is to have an alum like that. He read books to kids at the public library, he met with students here, he met with the alumni board."

Messitte said, "It means a lot that someone of his stature, known internationally and beloved by so many people around the world, that he cared so much about this place."

Some current Ripon College students even got the opportunity to meet him in Milwaukee last fall.

Mitchell Eithun, a senior at Ripon College, said, "He was just such a generous and kind man. It was really cool to hear him speak."

For the entire Ripon community, losing Jarreau will leave a big hole.

Kate Myszewksi, a sophomore at Ripon College, said, "It was really sad, because he was such an inspiration to us. Getting to meet him this last October, I was hoping to have him continue to be an inspiration to me."

Dietrich said, "He was one of the most positive people I've ever met, I thought this every time that I saw him. Fabulous guy… not just a great singer."

Ripon College has had a scholarship fund in Al Jarreau's name since 2006.

The college also says it will create additional ways to celebrate Jarreau's life and career.

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