Skip to Content

Passing of Joseph Docksey, Lamont's Director from 1988 to 2011

Back to Article Listing


Angela Mitchell

Manager of Marketing & Communications, Lamont School of Music

News  •
Joe Docksey

We are deeply saddened to share that F. Joseph Docksey, Director of the Lamont School of Music from 1988 until his retirement in 2011, passed away on Saturday, December 9. Joe was one of the most significant directors in Lamont’s 99-year history. His unfailing commitment to DU’s school of music, from decades of service to the design of and transition to the Newman Center, left an indelible mark. He also earned his MM from Lamont in 1974 and served as a professor here from 1977 to 2011.  

No words can truly capture Joe’s influence or how deeply he was admired.

Professor Docksey received his Bachelor of Music degree from Michigan State University, graduating with Honors in Performance, and his Master of Music degree in Trumpet Performance and Conducting from the Lamont School of Music, University of Denver. He studied trumpet with John Ware, Trumpet in the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

He held various positions at the Lamont School of Music throughout his career: he was professor of trumpet, conductor of the Lamont Wind Ensemble, Chair of the Woodwind, Brass, and Percussion Department and Assistant Director. He brought the Lamont Wind Ensemble to international recognition for its performances of new and original works and conducted the Lamont opera and musical theater orchestras for several years.

In his professional work, Docksey was a founding member and served for three decades as trumpeter of the Aries Brass Quintet, performing throughout the United States, Europe, Russia, and Central and South America. He was principal trumpet of the Denver Chamber Orchestra and of the Colorado Ballet Orchestra. He was also principal trumpet for the Denver Brass (watch this video of him performing with the group). He appears on 21 professional recordings. 

When Docksey became director of the wind, brass and percussion department in 1977, Lamont was housed in buildings on the corner of University Boulevard and Evans Avenue. Students practiced in storage units, held concerts in Sturm Hall classrooms, and the choir practiced in Buchtel Chapel. Despite its separation from DU’s main campus for 16 years, the Lamont School of Music persevered, poised for expansion and development. Both followed with the appointment of the School’s fifth Director, Joe Docksey, and by 2007, the school had more than tripled its enrollment and exceeded its strategic enrollment cap of 300 music majors. As Director, Professor Docksey helped to oversee the design and construction of the Robert and Judi Newman Center for the Performing Arts. Virginia E. Trevorrow Hall, which is housed in the Newman Center, became the new home for the Lamont School of Music in 2002. In February 2005, the Lamont School of Music was recognized by the city of Denver with the “Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.” In addition, Professor Docksey received the “Outstanding Service to the University” award from DU in 2007, and was inducted into the “Denver Brass Hall of Fame” in 2003.

From 1997-2003, Director Docksey represented the University of Denver as the “owner” in the design, programming, and construction of the $70M Newman Center for the Performing Arts which has become renowned worldwide for its beauty, acoustics, technology and practicality. The Newman Center has become the “Gold Standard” for university music facilities in the U.S. Mr. Docksey’s role in holding and attending over 1000 meetings and watching over the construction of the Newman Center was paramount to its success. He was a tireless presence in the entire planning and building process. He had a hardhat and steel-toed boots, and he spent seven days a week on campus. Even when the building was complete, he was loath to leave.

Read more about Docksey's leadership in building the Newman Center here

Docksey retired after 34 years as a professor, and 23 years as Director of Lamont and was named Professor Emeritus at the University of Denver.

If you are interested in making a gift to Lamont in Joe’s memory, please click here and choose the designation for “Joe Docksey Student Career Development Fund.”

Memories from the Celebration of Life

  • Memorial table
  • Celebration of Life

    The Celebration of Life took place inside Gates Concert Hall and included a slide show of memories of Joe. 

  • Denver Brass

    Warren Deck conducted the Denver Brass.

  • Paul Brooks

    Paul Brooks recounted Joe's early years.

  • Alan Hood

    Alan Hood recounted Joe's later years.

  • Joseph Martin

    Joseph Martin read a tribute from Ricardo Iznaola.

  • Judi Newman

    Judi Newman.

  • Joey Docksey

    Joey Docksey and his son remembered their father and grandfather. 

  • Tracy Docksey

    Tracy Docksey remembered her father.

  • Keith Ward

    Lamont Director Keith Ward offered words of welcome.

  • Celtic Colorado Pipes and Drums

    The Celtic Colorado Pipes and Drums.

  • Sarah Docksey Johnson

    Sarah Docksey Johnson remembered her father.

  • Kathy Brantigan

    Kathleen Brantigan spoke in celebration of Joe's musicianship and legacy.

  • Taps and Presentation of Flag

    Taps and Presentation of Flag.

  • Reception

    Reception in Joy Burns Plaza.