Accordionist Floren Recalled as Humble
Gonzalez, John W. "Accordionist Floren Recalled as Humble." Houston Chronicle, 25
NEW BRAUNFELS - When Myron Floren arrived for his
first Wurstfest in 1968,
he peeked out of the airplane at the red carpet and dignitaries
wondered what VIP was aboard his flight.
That's the kind of humble guy he was, friends said
Monday as they fondly
recalled the famous accordionist who died Saturday at age 85 in
Except for 1998, Floren was an annual headliner
at New Braunfels' popular
Wurstfest from 1968-2002. When he wasn't on stage playing fast-paced
music, he visited friends and ailing seniors and enjoyed shopping
home away from home, acquaintances said.
"He was very generous with his time and talent,
going beyond normal
entertaining," said Wurstfest spokesman Herb Skoog. "He
gave us that image
that we wanted of being a wholesome celebration where families
Even with immense musical talent and fame, Skoog
said, Floren "was common
as an old shoe. He'd talk to anybody" and mingled with fans
autographs until everyone was satisfied.
Though he played for huge crowds, he made many long-lasting
"I thought a lot of him. I'm sad," said
Betty Grist, 86. "As a person, he
was absolutely wonderful visiting the sick and everything."
"It's going to change the clientele" at
Wurstfest, she predicted.
"The older people are the ones who enjoyed
him," she said, adding that she
and her husband enjoyed dancing to Floren's widely varied tunes.
Her husband, Ed Grist, now deceased, helped create
the annual autumn
event, known as the "10-day salute to sausage," in 1962.
Floren was at the height of his TV popularity as
a fixture on the Lawrence
Welk Show when Raymond Baese, then the event's director, invited
the fledging festival.
He was just 10 years old at the time, but musician
Joe Grist, the son of
Ed and Betty, played drums during one of Floren's earliest Wurstfest
"At first he brought down some of the other
musicians he worked with from
the Lawrence Welk Orchestra, and then he got really good about
with the local musicians. He would have an all-star lineup of
different polka bands here in town," Grist said.
Quiet offstage, Floren was energetic and "no-nonsense"
"One of the things he was very strict about
was tempo and he played fast.
You had to be ready. He'd stomp that foot and his sock would slide
his ankle," Grist said.
When his father was ailing, Grist said Floren brought
his accordion to
"We'd sit in our den, and he'd play songs for
Daddy," Grist said.
Retiree Tom Purdum, who led the local Chamber of
Commerce for 30 years,
also enjoyed Floren's friendship and Wurstfest performances.
"It won't be the same without him. We haven't
had him the last two years,
but he's not forgotten and we're certainly going to miss him,"
For Floren's first appearance here, Purdum arranged
a VIP airport welcome.
Purdum's wife, Bobbie, said Floren would later recall that he
surprised to see a red carpet, dignitaries, polka musicians and
traditional German outfits waiting on the tarmac.
"Myron said he started to get out of the plane
and thought, 'My goodness.
There must be somebody important on this plane. I wonder who it
That's Myron. That's the kind of person he was," she said.