It is with profound sadness that we share the news of the passing of Don Warren, founder of The Cavaliers.


Don Warren founded The Cavaliers in 1948 as the drum and bugle corps for Boy Scout Troop 111 in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. Warren would go on to lead The Cavaliers and make his mark in the marching arts world, with more than 20 national championships and seven Drum Corps International world championships under his belt. Most importantly, he would help cultivate the next generation of leaders, educators and beyond.

“Our hearts are heavy today,” said Chris Hartowicz, Board President. “To the Cavaliers, Don was more than just a name or a figure in our rich drum corps history. He was a man who deeply cared for all of us and who we loved deeply in return.”


“We stand in gratitude not only of the past history but the future of The Cavaliers thanks to the leadership he instilled in all of us,” Hartowicz said.

The first Cavaliers weren’t musicians, destined to lead orchestras. That ragtag bunch was destined to build city streets and bridges, root around in sinks and sewers, fry short-order eggs and fix engines. They were Chicago old-neighborhood kids, looking to kill time on a Saturday afternoon. They wore a khaki Boy Scout uniform parading down Milwaukee Avenue, played a straight bugle – no valves – and tied the knots for their own snare drum slings, thank you.
— Colt Foutz
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Warren inspired his troops to pick up instruments after watching the Racine Scouts perform at a Boy Scout jamboree at Chicago’s Soldier Field in 1946, creating the Chicago Cavaliers. Under Warren’s leadership, The Cavaliers won the VFW National Championship title in Miami in 1957 and rode on to an undefeated season in 1961, later reprised in 2002. Throughout the 1960’s, Warren’s Chicago Cavaliers were the drum corps force to be reckoned with.

Warren was one of the founding fathers of what would eventually become Drum Corps International (DCI), along with Jim Jones (Troopers), Bill Howard (Madison Scouts), Dave Kampschroer (Blue Stars) and Gail Royer (Santa Clara Vanguard). The series of meetings and phone calls between this group throughout the winter of 1970 changed the face of the marching arts and established the foundation for the activity as we know it today.

Warren handed over the management of the corps in 1975 and continued to serve the organization as chairman emeritus and founder on the board of directors. Beyond his continued commitment to the corps following his departure, Warren was inducted into the DCI Hall of Fame in 1985.

May our dear friend, leader, founder, and giant to us all rest in peace.
— Dan Acheson, Chief Executive Officer of Drum Corps International

The Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps is eternally grateful to Don Warren for his passion, commitment and dedication to the marching arts and the opportunities he created for hundreds of young performers. Warren will be dearly missed, but his legacy will live on with every step taken and every note played.

service arrangements:

Wednesday, June 12:

Thursday, June 13:

Friday, June 14:


Thoughts from Cavaliers

Don Warren will live on in the hearts of hundreds, if not thousands, for many years to come. The Cavaliers, thanks to Don Warren, helped shape many lives.
— Gene Onesto
TOC 2011 in line for hot dogs during Cadets performance:
‘Hey kid, you like The Cavaliers? You should audition someday!’
‘Oh, I want to someday, did you march them?’
‘March with them? I created them!’

Final April camp 2016: ‘Thanks for turning me into the man I am today, Don.’

Truly, thank you. Rest easy, Mr. Cavalier; See you on the other side of the rainbow.
— Kyle Casey, 2014-16
I marched in the Chicago Cavaliers in 1971, my age-out year. Although I only was a member of this great organization for only one season, it was the best year of my drum corps life. Don Warren gave me that opportunity when I joined the world-famous Chicago Cavaliers. I wanted to wear the Green, and I wasn’t ashamed of telling anyone my goal: to be a Cavalier, even if it was only for one season. So in the fall of 1970, I took the “El” to Logan Square and signed on the dotted line. My dream came true and I was marching with the powerful Cavaliers, first in the color guard, but then being transferred to the hornline when Sal found out I was a pretty good baritone horn player. Not only did I get to wear the Green, but I began a wonderful friendship with Don Warren. Thank you Mr. Warren for a wonderful experience and may you and your late wife, Jan, rest in peace in Drum Corps Heaven.
— Dan Currier, 1971
Rest in Peace, Don Warren. You gave me and many others an opportunity to be a part of something so much bigger. I now have hundreds of brothers all over the world even though I’m an only child. Thank you and may God be with you and your family.
— Stephen Jusko, 2009-12
RIP Don, condolences to the Warren family, and to all of the Brothers who have the opportunity to have been a member of one of the greatest drum and bugle corps of all time. I thank Don for having started The Cavaliers and am very grateful to have been able to march with the corps from 77-80. Splooie Don.
— Bill Weber, 1977-80
Don was in the trenches as much as anyone, leading by example in the good times and bad. His personality drew outstanding people to the organization and motivate them to give their best. May his spirit live on through the years.
— Vincent Ferrera
Thanks to our founder, Don Warren, for bringing us all to The Cavaliers, for caring for each of us, and for helping us create lifelong friendships. You will forever be our hero. SPLOOIE.
— Cary Couchenour, 2013

About The Cavaliers

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The Cavaliers were founded in 1948 from Boy Scout Troop 111 by the late Don Warren. One of the most successful drum and bugle corps in history, The Cavaliers have won 20 national championships, including seven Drum Corps International world championships, since 1992.

The Cavaliers provide a variety of life-changing educational and performance programs for young people that go beyond music and performing arts to build personal accountability, excellence, teamwork and camaraderie. Programs include GearWORKS, Cavaliers Indoor Percussion, Chromium Winds, Crystal Lake Thunder and Midwest Connection.

A 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, The Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps is sponsored by The Village of Rosemont, Ill.