Born in Barberton, Ohio, in 1917 to Samuel and Ruth McGinnis, Dr. McGinnis was a distinguished musician, Professor Emeritus, and Director of Bands Emeritus at The Ohio State University. As an avid fan of collegiate sports and native Ohioan, Dr. McGinnis was an enthusiastic supporter of both the Ohio State Football and Basketball teams. His love of sports was eclipsed by his lifelong devotion to music. As a child, his early prowess in clarinet led to his being the first seventh-grader to be accepted as a member of the Medina County Band. In high school he was a member of the band, orchestra, glee club, and jazz ensemble, was a guard on the varsity football team in his senior year, as well as achieving the scholastic honor of being elected to the National Honor Society. Dr. McGinnis completed his collegiate education with undergraduate degrees in clarinet performance and music education from Oberlin College, followed by MA and PhD degrees in music theory and composition from the University of Iowa. His dissertation was his own composition Symphony for Band, available from Hal Leonard.
In 1941, he began a forty-year career at Ohio State which was interrupted by his enlistment in the United States Navy, where he performed as the principal clarinetist and featured soloist in an elite musical unit. During the war, he received a commission and served as the Communication Officer on the USS Lucidor in the South Pacific, achieving the rank of lieutenant junior grade.
During his post-war career with Ohio State, Dr. McGinnis became the conductor of the Concert Band. Under his leadership, the Concert Band earned national and international recognition with performances in illustrious venues such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. Outside the School of Music, he was the principal clarinetist of the Columbus Symphony for two years, and the principal flutist for another ten years. After retiring from Ohio State, he was the interim conductor of the Capital University Wind Ensemble and Columbus Youth Wind Ensemble for the 1979-80 year. He was appointed conductor of the Southeastern Symphony Orchestra in New Concord, Ohio for the 1979-87 seasons. He was the interim band director at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1989.
Among his many honors, he is a member of the Columbus Senior Musicians Hall of Fame, Honorary Member of Phi Beta Mu and Tau Beta Sigma, Distinguished Service to Music Award from Kappa Kappa Psi, and the God and Country Award from the Salvation Army. He was elected a member of the American Bandmasters Association and served as President of that association before being named as an Honorary Life President.
He married Ruth L. Ostrander on November 28, 1946. She preceded him in death on July 1, 2016.
He is survived by daughters, Rebecca, of Tujunga, CA and Martha (David) Gamble of Grove City; granddaughter, Erika Gamble of Reynoldsburg; brother Richard (Mary) McGinnis of Naples, FL; many nephews and nieces; and a legion of students and colleagues.
He was preceded in death by his brother Harold McGinnis.
Family will receive friends at the TIDD FAMILY FUNERAL HOME, 5265 Norwich St in Hilliard, OH. A private funeral service will be held at a later date in addition to a Memorial concert at Ohio State.
Memorial contributions may take the form of checks mailed to The Ohio State University Foundation, 1480 W. Lane Ave., Columbus, OH 43221. Checks should be payable to The Ohio State University Foundation. Please indicate the Donald E. McGinnis School of Music New Day Fund #314212 in the memo line.