Karlstrom, Paul (1920-2014) | University of Illinois Archives
Paul Karlstrom was born Jan. 3, 1920, in Peoria, the son of the Rev. Ossian Leanard and Mabel Olivia Karlstrom. His family moved to Rankin, where his father passed away in 1926. Mr. Karlstrom graduated from the University of Illinois in 1942 and was drafted into the Army. He was aboard ship with the intended invasion force when the atom bombs were dropped on Japan. After discharge as a first lieutenant with occupation forces, he entered the U of I Law School, graduating in 1950. He opened his law office in 1951 on the U of I campus. In 1950, he married Doris June Case of Arcola, who passed away in 1998. He had three sons, Ron, Scott and Kirk (Pam) Karlstrom; two grandchildren, Krista (Clayton) Overstreet and Kai; and one great-granddaughter, Kaitlyn. He was a member and president of the Champaign Exchange Club and a member of the Champaign Kiwanis Club, and served on the Board of Trustees of Augustana College in Rock Island for eight years. He was a member of the Champaign Chapter of the American Federation of Musicians since 1937, serving as secretary since 1966. He also served on the law committee of the International Musicians Union and was president of the Illinois Conference of Musicians. He taught law with the U of I College of Engineering for 27 years, retiring as lecturer emeritus. He was a member of the Illinois Bar Association and the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association. He was a member and past president of the University Club. He was organizer and first president of the Campus Businessmen's Association. Mr. Karlstrom began his music career while in high school, playing trumpet at dances in the area with a small group from Hoopeston. Upon enrollment at the U of I in 1937, he found Champaign-Urbana to be a musician's paradise, with five or six full-sized bands playing for the many ballroom dances at fraternities, sororities, Huff Gym and many local ballrooms, including the rooftop of Robeson's Department Store. He also played summer venues in Colorado, Michigan, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Upon returning from the military in 1946, he formed his own band, Paul Karlstrom and His Orchestra, which continued until 1959. In later years, he switched to valve trombone and played a number of dates with Medicare 7, 8 or 9, and continued to play with the group Bud's Band, entertaining local nursing homes weekly.
He passed away on March 19, 2014.