Ken and Carole Yerrick

Carole and Ken Yerrick with their grandson, Jake Randall.

When first-year marching band members complete their preseason dress rehearsal, they earn the right to wear the coveted Spartan Marching Band jacket. This year’s freshmen were gifted their jackets when Ken and Carole Yerrick made a donation that covered the cost of the jackets for all 80 SMB freshmen. 

“My wife and I have been longtime contributors to MSU projects, mostly in the College of Natural Science,” Ken said. “We were interested in learning more about the needs of the SMB to see if there was something we might pursue.”

As a member of the Spartan Marching Band trombone section from 1959-62, Ken holds the SMB very near to his heart. “The SMB experience has provided lifelong memories,” he said. “Although I was a chemistry major, I had a music scholarship that meant I played in the marching band, concert band, and orchestra.”

When the 80 freshmen band members learned that they wouldn’t have to bring a check to pay for their jackets, emotions and gratitude flooded the room.

“It is a great honor to receive these jackets from the Yerricks,” said Ross Taylor, a third-year music education major and first-year bass drummer in the band. “I feel like I can speak for the entire freshman class when I say how appreciative we are.”

For first-year tuba player Ben Ackland, a sophomore majoring in social relations and policy, the Yerricks' act of generosity made him respect the reputation of the jacket even more. “To witness an alumnus donate that amount of money toward something he was once a part of makes me truly value the jacket and what we do — it’s beyond imaginable. The jacket is a symbol of the SMB on campus and the love people hold for it is very dear.”

Jake Randall is also one of the freshmen who received a donated band jacket. What makes this especially meaningful for him is that Ken and Carole are his grandparents. “I am so proud of my grandpa,” said Jake after hearing the announcement. “It is so great to be a part of something that he was in before me.”

And Ken is proud of his grandson. “It has been a dream of Jake’s for several years to be accepted into the SMB, and he is very excited about it. So am I!”

If you’d like to support the Band Jacket Fund, please contact Rebecca Surian at to learn more about this giving opportunity. Thanks to the start from the Yerricks, there is now a special account set up to receive donations specifically for band jacket purchases.