Established on 02.20.2014 by Gary '63 and Elizabeth "Betty" Zinter and Maria and Michael Lamb
Gary E. Zinter was the first of Ervin Zinter and Dorothy Pederson Zinter’s four children to graduate from Concordia. Gary’s daughter, Courtney, ’02, was the 21st Pederson/Zinter family member to graduate from Concordia College. Following his graduation from Concordia in 1963 with a chemistry major and math minor, Gary taught science and math at William M. Kelley High School in Silver Bay, MN, for 18 years. From 1966 to 1973, he owned and operated a fast food restaurant in Beaver Bay, MN, while teaching school. In 1975, while still teaching, Gary began working for Lutheran Brotherhood, now Thrivent Financial, where he worked for 43 years before retiring in 2018. Gary has remained active at Concordia by serving on Concordia's National Alumni Board from 2006-2010 and being a Class Agent since 2001. He also received the "Call to Serve Award" in 2021 and the "John Pierce Ambassador Award" in 2022.
Elizabeth (“Betty”) Zinter is a University of Minnesota Mankato graduate with a degree in chemistry and math. She taught high school science and math in Lakefield, MN, until she and Gary were married. Betty was a substitute teacher for several years and was Gary’s administrative assistant in his insurance business for over 20 years.
Gary's brother, Albert E. "Al" Zinter, died of complications due to Parkinson's disease in December 2012. Gary and Betty are honoring the memory of Al through this choral music scholarship. Al graduated from Concordia in 1964 with a music education major and a math minor.
Al's interest in music started in the 7th grade when he began taking piano lessons. He would practice at least one hour a day, keeping accurate records of his practice time. Al played the baritone in the Willmar High School (WHS) band of which he was elected president. Al was also in the WHS choir and for three years was elected its president. Al formed a male quartet during his senior year in high school. They were called on to provide music on 30 occasions. Al sang in the church choir for years and had a leading part in a school musical.
Al continued his love for music at Concordia College. He was one of four freshman to make the concert choir and spent the last two years as section leader for the tenors, under the direction of Al's mentor, Dr. Paul J. Christianson. In his senior year, Al directed Concordia's all-school homecoming show and was active in a number of campus activities, including forming and directing a college quartet for two years. Upon graduation, Al landed a highly prized choral directing position in Fairmont, MN.
Al was very active within his music programs at school, at church, and in the community. In 1976, he started the Al Zinter Chorale that performed more than 100 concerts in southern Minnesota from 1976-1983, and two sets of reunion concerts (1989 and 2008). At Fairmont, Al met his wife, Jean Gratz; they raised three children: Maria, a CPA; Aaron, currently choir director at Oak Grove Lutheran High School in Fargo, and of The Master Chorale of Fargo/Moorhead; and Erik, who, after being the choir director at Faribault for several years, is now at NDSU, working on his Ph.D. in music.
Called into church work, in 1983, Al became the Second Presbyterian Church (Bloomington, IL) director of music activities. He was the second Cobber to serve in this position, and his son, Aaron, later became the third. He directed five choirs, there, and he was responsible for the music at three services and other functions.
In 1992, Al became director of all of the choirs at Owatonna High School, recommended by Roger Tenny, a former choir director there and 1967 National Teacher of the Year. Al retired from that position in 2003.
Al Zinter's choral groups have been featured at many regional and national conventions, sung in nearly every state in the U.S. and have taken two international tours. Al also directed several church choirs, community choirs and many large-scale sacred works and musical theatre shows.
Most of all, Al was a great family man. He loved his wife and children. He loved most sports, he loved playing cards, he loved being a teacher, he loved his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and he loved life.
Concordia's oft-quoted mission statement is "The purpose of Concordia College is to influence the affairs of the world by sending into society thoughtful and informed men and women dedicated to the Christian life." Gary's brother, Al, was an exceptional person, who certainly lived up to Concordia's motto: Soli Deo Gloria.
The Al Zinter Memorial Endowed Scholarship is awarded to students in their junior or senior year who intend to be directors of choral music in a high school, college or in a church setting. Preference is given to students pursuing a double major in music and education and those who show promise of becoming creative and successful choral directors.