Dr. Robert E. Bachelder Scholarship

Dr. Robert E. Bachelder was a former associate superintendent of schools in Melrose. He was born in Lowell, MA and attended Malden Catholic High School before going into the military and serving during WWII.

In his younger years, Dr. Bachelder had a great love of music. He got his start on the drums in his teens and moved on to piano, both largely self-taught. After the military, he played with small local bands and eventually formed his own fifteen piece big band, Bob Bachelder’s Totem Pole Orchestra, where he wrote most of his own arrangements and played piano. He was well known throughout New England as his band played weddings, proms, and ballrooms during the 1950’s and 1960’s, as well as serving a nine year stint as the house band at the beautiful Totem Pole Ballroom in Newton, MA. His band even had a top 40’s hit in 1953, TV Rumba, which got radio play nationwide.

Meanwhile, knowing that he also had a great interest in education, Dr. Bachelder combined these two pursuits by graduating in 1954 with a bachelor’s degree in both elementary and music education from Lowell State College. From there, he earned his master’s degree in counseling from Tufts University.

Dr. Bachelder served in Melrose as a junior high English teacher, a guidance counselor, a principal, and became the first assistant superintendent of schools. He also helped to form the first public school learning disabilities program in Massachusetts which eventually became Chapter 766. In 1970, Dr. Bachelder was awarded a PhD in school administration from Boston University. He retired from the Melrose School System in 1988.

In his retirement, Dr. Bachelder again combined education and music, as he taught and supervised student teachers at Salem State College. In addition, he re-formed his big band and again played concerts and events in the Boston area. Dr. Bachelder was a husband as well as the father of three, step-father of one, and grandfather to ten grandchildren. He died in May of 2015 at the age of 89 after a wonderfully fulfilling life and career.

Dr. Bachelder was a well-loved administrator in Melrose who advocated for educational excellence, while always keeping the humanity in education. As a musician and band leader, he was loved for the joy and energy he brought to those who followed his music. He would be so pleased to know that his devotion to these two life pursuits will live on through this scholarship.

Dr. Robert E. Bachelder Scholarship

Preference to a student pursuing studies in music

Category: Study, All

Specifics: Music

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