Jazz legend Louis Armstrong once described music as “life itself.” For some people, it creates an artistic bridge connecting friends and family across generations.
At Purdue University, music has long played an instrumental role in campus and student life. The late Jan Huber, a veterinarian and former student in the College of Agriculture, loved performing in the “All-American” Marching Band and creating cherished memories.
“I recall marching from Elliott Hall of Music to Ross-Ade Stadium before home football games, blasting ‘Hail Purdue!’ on my trombone as loudly as I could possibly play,” he said shortly before his death in December.
Kami Huber, his great-granddaughter and an alto saxophonist, shares his passion for music. She performs in the jazz and concert bands at Noblesville High School in Indiana and hopes one day to study veterinary medicine. “It’s amazing that with all the years between us, we both had a love of music and veterinary science,” Kami says of their bond.
An Indiana native and member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, Huber developed a keen interest in animal agriculture at an early age. His paternal grandmother owned a farm with cows and chickens, and his father, Edward (A’27, MS EDU’32), purchased a farm stocked with beef cattle, swine, and sheep.
“My father was in Purdue’s four-year ROTC program in the horse artillery,” Huber said. “I can remember playing with his knee-high boots and spurs as a boy. By the time I was a senior in high school, l had decided I wanted to be a farm-animal veterinarian.” Although Purdue didn’t yet offer a veterinary degree, students could complete coursework preparing them for advanced study at other institutions.
Attending Purdue not only enhanced Huber’s vocational preparation but also enriched his personal life when he met his wife, Rose Marie (A’55), in a dairy bacteriology class. He went on to earn his doctor of veterinary medicine degree at the Ohio State University and maintained strong ties with Purdue throughout his life. Together, he and Rose Marie helped fund construction of the Hobart and Russell Creighton Hall of Animal Sciences and established a related endowment in their names.
In recent years, Huber’s musical legacy at Purdue came full circle. Between 2011 and 2017, he marched and performed with students during several Homecoming celebrations. This past fall, Kami conducted the marching band in Huber’s honor during a practice performance of “Hail Purdue!” that was captured on film.
“He was honored that everyone worked so hard on the surprise,” Kami says. “He told me that he watched the video a couple dozen times the first day. Over the years, I saw the time Grandpa put into the things he was passionate about, and it was inspiring.”