Walt Bahm

The late Walter Bahm was born on January 3rd, 1921, in Malmo, Nebraska. His parents were Louis and Bess Bahm. He was married to the late Adeline Sabatka Bahm. They are survived by daughter Judy Henrickson and son Scott Bahm.

At age 7, Walt started playing drums that were loaned to him by his aunt. He then took lessons from Louis Pokorny of Malmo, who directed the Malmo Community Band and then joined the group and played for concerts on Sundays in Malmo. While in the Weston High SChool band, Walt got to participate in one of the first Band Days at the University of Nebraska Game Day in 1938.

The first band Walt played for was Adolf Simanek Band from Prague, Nebraska, when he was still in high school. After high school, he played with the Royal Highlanders Band from Fremont, Nebraska, with all of the band playing in Scottish Kiltis. He then played with the Hank Winder Band from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He married Adeline Sabatka in 1942.

Walt served in the United States Navy during World War II as a hospital corpsman from 1942 to 1945 in the South Pacific, and also organized a band to play on the ship for the sailors.

The list of polka bands that Walt played for: Golden Prague, Adolph Nemetz, Six Fat Dutchmen, Whoopie John, Czechlanders, Moostash Joe, Stehlik Combo, and on the ballroom side Lou Arnold.

Walt owned his own printing company, Capital Printing, and then woked for multiple Lithograph companies in the Lincoln, Nebraska area, which included Nebraska Farmer, Nebraska Litho, Mid-American Web Press, and Arbor Printing.

Interesting facts about Walt:

  • He practiced drumming to polka music every morning at 6 AM listening to a polka radio show at age 7.
  • While drumming in Band Day at UNL, it started raining and he didn’t know what to do, but kept playing until he ended up putting a hole in the drum.
  • The sleeper bus that the Royal Highland Band had was once owned by Lawrence Welk

Walt passed away on October 25th, 2001.

Source: Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, September 11th, 2022