Taught by his father, John began playing violin at age three. His mother was a kindergarten teacher and artist, and his father was a musician, junior high English teacher, and principal. John graduated from Seward High School in 1967 and from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1971. He received a Master in Music Education degree from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
John was a band and orchestra teacher in Shelby and Wahoo, Nebraska, and at Lincoln High School. He taught instrumental music at numerous Lincoln public elementary schools, including Lakeview, Roper, Beattie, and others.
In 1992, John married Beverly Bohlke, a fellow Lincoln Public Schools music teacher. The couple lived in Lincoln, enjoying friends and family, the performing arts, and activities with the Flatwater British Car club. John was a founding member of the club and served as president among other officer roles. A lifelong fan, owner, and restorer of British racing cars, John traveled with the club, attended car shows, and also took part in autocross races.
An accomplished musician, John played trumpet, violin, mandolin, and more. He played trumpet as a member of the Accent Brass ensemble and the Plymouth Brass of First-Plymouth Church in Lincoln for over 25 years. He directed the Seward summer band and was the conductor for several Pinewood Bowl musicals in Lincoln. He was known for performing trumpet solos on his back deck in honor of holidays, remembrances, or the celebration du jour.
Family members include his wife, Beverly; children Eric Ulrich and wife Amy Roth of Berlin, Germany, and Alyssa and husband Ben Brouwer of Lincoln; step-daughters Saraugh Fitah of Boston, Massachusetts, and Susannah Bohlke and partner Sammy Leonard of New York, New York; grandchildren Olivia and Sophia Brouwer, Margot Ulrich Roth, and Bayan, Samir, and Sophia Fitah; sister Barb and husband Jim Meister of Sioux Rapids, Iowa; brother Dave Thomas and wife Louie Brower of Cherokee, Iowa; nephews Andrew and Aaron Meister, and Caden Thomas; and cousin Deb Gerow.
John was preceded in death by his biological parents Charles and Lou Ann Thomas, and his adoptive parents Wayne and Ruby Ulrich.
John is also survived by innumerable friends — classmates, students, fraternity brothers, car club members, neighbors, Lincoln Public Schools colleagues, and members of the music community. To meet John was to make a friend; to ask for his help was to have your problem solved before you knew it.
John’s celebration of life will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, April 28, 2023, at First-Plymouth Congregational Church of Lincoln.
Memorials may be made to the American Heart Association, the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools, Planned Parenthood, and the Food Bank of Lincoln.
SERVICE PLAYBACK LINK:
John Ulrich Memorial Service | April 28th, 2023 at 1pm from First-Plymouth Church on Vimeo.