Fullerton College Centennial


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After Sheldon Disrud relocated from his native midwest to Southern California, he began to pursue a career in music — a marked departure from his original goal of becoming a doctor. Having formed a vocal sextet at L.A. City College, Disrud was contacted by an agent whose client, a singer, was looking for backup singers. The singer was Mel Torme, and Disrud and his friends became “The Mel-Tones.” As a performer, Disrud routinely rubbed elbows with the likes of Les Baxter, Marilyn Horne, Paul Whiteman and the future Mrs. Henry Mancini. After attending USC from 1946-’51, Disrud flirted with the show-biz life, but ultimately went directly from show business to a teaching job at Anaheim High School.

Disrud was brought to FC in the mid-1960s to teach and conduct choir madrigal, chamber singers and the a capella choir. The school’s music building was brand new and the department boasted faculty like Sara McFerrin, Dorothy Griffin and Nelson Bonar. While teaching at Fullerton College, Disrud also assisted Dr. Charles Hirt, one of his teachers from USC and his mentor, in running Disneyland’s annual Candlelight Procession at Christmastime, which Hirt started in 1957 and Disrud directed and ran from 1980 to 1990. Though now primarily retired, Disrud conducts church choirs and retirees in Orange County.

“I originally wanted to be a doctor and was going to be a doctor, but was drawn to music – and I think music has been the better vehicle for me than medicine would have been.”
Sheldon Disrud, January 27, 2011

“I felt that teaching would be a much better life for me than to stay in show business, that being a teacher would be something I could feel good about — and I love people.”
Sheldon Disrud, January 27, 2011

“The whole atmosphere of the Music Department was innovation, of getting things better for everybody.”
Sheldon Disrud, January 27, 2011

Disrud says his goal in teaching singing is “getting people to react with their emotions as well as their voices.”
Sheldon Disrud, January 27, 2011

Date of Birth:

April 1, 1924

Dates at Fullerton College:


Department of Specialty:

Music Department (choral music)


  • 2000: Swan Award, ACDA (American Choral Directors Assn.)
  • 2006: Fred Boch Lifetime Service Award, NACM (National Assn. of Church Musicians)
  1. Disrud, Sheldon. Videotaped Centennial Project interview, conducted and recorded by Jay Goldstein, January 27, 2011.
  2. Interview with and emails to Eric Marchese, 10-31-2012