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2006-2007 Hall of Fame Inductees

Vernon Denman       Joe Harness       Jimmy Knox       Rudolph Martinez

Manuel "Meme" Mireles      Art Ratley      Lloyd Reitz      W. R. Snavely

(click on a name to go to that person, or simply scroll down)

Vernon Denman

Vernon (Vern) Denman was born near Childress, Texas on a Farm/Ranch on November 10, 1926. The family moved to San Antonio, Texas when he was very young, and this is where he attended school. He graduated from Burbank High School in 1945. He and his wife, Valera, were school mates and were married in 1947 when Vern returned from military service. He served in the infantry and later in the 748th AAF Band before being discharged.

Vern attended Trinity University and St. Mary's University in San Antonio and Vandercook College of Music in Chicago, Illinois, where he received his Bachelor of Music Education degree. He did advanced studies later at West Texas State University in Canyon, Texas.

Vern began his teaching career in Harlingen in 1950 as Junior High Band Director and assistant to Joe Frank. He taught in Raymondville in the late 50's. Under his direction, the Raymondville band won the Outstanding Band Award at Buccaneer Music Festival in Corpus Christi, Texas and was also Region AA Honor Band that year. He was assistant to Ralph Burford in the early 1960s.

He moved to North Texas where he taught band in several schools for a number of years before returning to the Valley via Rockport, Texas, where he spent 3 years as low brass teacher and director of the concert band.

While in North Texas his Boswell High School Band was a Region Honor Band and a consistent 1st Division winner in both marching and concert contests. Moving to 5A, to O.D. Wyatt in Fort Worth, his band received numerous awards in both concert and stage band.

Vern retired from P.S.J.A. as an assistant to Pete Cisneros in 1986. He is still active in music education, having tutored with the Edinburg I.S.D. and playing in various groups around the Valley. He played in the Valley Symphony under Dr. Williams in the late 50's and then again under Dr. Carl Seale in the late 80's.

His three children played in his band, and son Paul Denman recently retired from P.S.J.A. as head director at Memorial High School. He and Val have five grandsons, two granddaughters and one great-granddaughter.  Vern and Val live in McAllen with dog Ginger.

Joe Harness

Throughout his life and his 41-year career as a musician and educator, Joe Fred Harness has exhibited a fierce dedication to music. Joe taught his students about music, but many also remember Joe as a father figure who also taught them about life and character. He always has words of wisdom and humor to share with his bands and friends.

Joe was born to Guy and Audrey Harness in Frederick, Okla. Joe and his older brother, Jim, spent their childhood in the small Oklahoma town helping their parents run their grocery store. From an early age, Joe was extremely social and was on first-name basis with most everyone in town.

Jim played cornet, and at the age of five, Joe expressed interest in learning to play the instrument, too. Joe’s father, a skilled craftsman and welder, found a very used cornet and got it into working condition. Joe watched his brother practice and then would figure out how to reproduce what his brother played, eventually learning to read music. As a child, when he was asked what he liked to do, Joe would quickly reply, “play my horn – that’s it.”

While in junior high, Frederick High School Band Director Mel Clark quickly took note of Joe’s exceptional talent and asked him to perform as a member of the high school band. Mr. Clark maintained his interest in Joe’s musical development, playing duets with him every day after school and encouraging him to attend solo competitions at various high schools and universities throughout Oklahoma. Joe attributes his desire to become a teacher to Mr. Clark and considers him one of the truly important influences in his life.

Acclaimed North Texas State Trumpet Professor John Haynie also became a recurring figure in Joe’s life, through his participation in many solo competitions in which he competed. Mr. Haynie was always impressed with Joe’s natural ability, yet was always brutally honest in his criticism of the young cornetist. Professor Haynie eventually recruited Joe to North Texas State.

At North Texas, Joe worked hard to become an outstanding player, eventually earning the principal chair in Maurice McAdow’s Symphonic Band. At the conclusion of his studies and with his bachelor’s degree awarded in 1964, Joe accepted a position as the band director at Brownsville Cummings Junior High and assistant director at Brownsville High School.

As part of one of the most exemplary band programs of that time, Joe learned from the many fine teachers in Brownsville and developed the Cummings Band into a consistent Sweepstakes band. He then spent one year as band director at Bowman Junior High in Plano, Texas, where he was heavily influenced by many of the fine directors in the Dallas area.

After his year in Plano, Joe returned for one more year as an assistant at Brownsville High, then became the first director of bands at James Pace High School in Brownsville. It was during the beginning of his tenure at Pace that Joe met and fell in love with Alma Rivera, marrying her in spring 1977. Joe describes his time at Pace as a “labor of love,” where he poured his all into the program for 23 years. While he was at Pace, the band placed in the top ten in class 4A State Honor Band Competition five times – finishing third in the state in 1985, took part in two concert tours of Europe, qualified for the Texas State Marching Contest, and never received less than 1st Division rating in Concert.

Joe is most proud of his family, including his wife Alma, his daughters JoAnn and Cayce, and his son Christopher. Those lucky enough to call Joe a friend are very blessed, as are the thousands of students influenced by this fine musician and teacher.

Jimmy Knox

Jimmy was born April 6, 1947 to Bobby and Loraine Knox in Burkburnett, Texas. He attended school in Wichita Falls, Electra, and Olney, Texas. Jimmy graduated Valedictorian in 1965 from Olney High School. While in high school, he was named the Outstanding Performer on trombone at State Solo and Ensemble Contest as well as being awarded a place in the Texas All-State Band.

Jimmy went on to attend East Texas State University where he graduated with honors, receiving his bachelors and masters degree in music education. In 1970, Jimmy married Illana Kay Cathey. After 16 years of marriage, Illana succumbed to cancer.

After teaching for four years in Plano, Jimmy moved to the Valley where he became head director at Central Middle School. Jimmy held that position at Central for 29 years.

Under his direction, Central would earn consistent 1st Division ratings as well as numerous awards. Mr. Knox would also place the highest number of band members in the All-Valley band for many years.

The Central Band went on to place in the top 10 in the Honor Band process on three separate occasions under Jimmy's direction.

During his teaching career, Jimmy played a huge part in the quality of musicians, which were to make up some of Brownsville's top bands.

Since retiring, Mr. Knox has kept busy with KC Recording Company, working at home, and feeding stray animals.

Rudolph Martinez

Rudolph "Rudy" Martinez, Jr. was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, and graduated from Roy Miller High School. He graduated from Del Mar Junior College with a Certificate in Music. He later attended the University of Oklahoma, and obtained his Bachelor's Degree in Music from the University of Corpus Christi. He later earned his Masters Degree in Music from Texas A & I - Kingsville.

After serving as Head Band Director from 1969-1979 in the Woodsboro Independent School District, Mr. Martinez became Head Band Director at Grulla Middle School in 1979, where he worked until his retirement in 2003. He also served as an assistant director to Al Cortinas at Rio Grande City High School.

Now retired, Mr. Martinez and his wife Cristina continue to live in Rio Grande City where they are very active in the community and in the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.

Manuel "Meme" Mireles

Manuel (Meme) Mireles was born on September 25, 1938, in Mason City, Iowa. In 1944, his father decided to make Brownsville the Mireles family permanent residence.

Mr. Mireles is a current member of TBA, TMEA, and Phi Beta Mu. He started his music career at age 11 playing trumpet under James R. Murphy in Brownsville, Texas. The following year, at age 12, Mr. Murphy placed him in the High School Golden Eagle Band. He performed with the famed Golden Eagle Band at the prestigious Mid-West National Band Clinic in Chicago.

Mr. Mireles started his teaching career in 1961, at Trinidad, a small Class B School near Waco, Texas. The following year he joined Mr. Bryce Taylor and his staff in Alice, Texas. He taught at Memorial Junior High, a Class 3C Band, and helped with brass classes at Alice High School for six years. His junior high band was a consistent 1st division winner in all events entered.

In 1969, Mr. Mireles took over the Point Isabel Band Program at Port Isabel, Texas. Over the years, the Point Isabel Band had been consistently awarded 5th divisions in U.I.L. competitions. Within a year, Mr. Mireles and his staff were able to bring the band up to 2nd divisions in all competitions entered. The band consistently earned 1st division in all areas over the next nine years. During that time, the program grew and produced the highest number of All—Valley Band students in their classification. The students in the program were consistently earning top ratings in Solo & Ensemble competitions.

In 1973, the band was ranked among the top ten bands in its class in the State. In 1977, the band earned the distinction of being the AA Honor Band in the State of Texas. Much credit needs to be attributed to Lois Lindemann, from Los Fresnos, Gilbert Saenz, from San Antonio, and the Brownsville Band Staff who were instrumental in helping develop the program.

In 1979, Mr. Mireles joined and worked with Mr. Scott Taylor and his staff at the outstanding Richardson Band Program in Richardson, Texas. In 1980, Mr. Mireles returned to the valley to join High School Music Service to become a partner and music consultant with the firm. He became instrumental in helping implement and develop the music and band program in various points in Mexico. The band program in Matamoros, Mexico continues to grow and develop young musicians due to the leadership that was provided by Mr. Mireles.

In 1984, Mr. Mireles decided to return to education and was offered a position as a brass instructor and consultant at Brwonsville I.S.D.

Mr. Mireles retired as a full—time band director in 1994. Since his retirement he still continues pursuing his career in real estate property. This is a career in which he has always been involved in and loves. Most of his time and energy is spent on managing and maintaining his real estate business in Brownsville as well as in South Padre Island.

For relaxation, he enjoys golfing, fishing, and running long distance. Over the past fifteen (15) years he has competed in four marathons and is currently training to run 5K and 10K runs throughout the State.

Art Ratley

Artis (Art) Ratley was born in Carthage, Texas on April 21, 1933. He graduated from Carthage HS in 1950, and received his Bachelors and Masters Degrees from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogodoches, Texas. He also attended Vandercook College of Music in Chicago for graduate work in 1958.

He served in the military as a Euphonium player with the United States Fourth Army Band at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas from 1955-1957. After separation from the Army in 1957, Art moved to Harlingen and was assistant director to Joe Frank and L.M. Snavely. The next year L.M. Snavely moved to McAllen and Art was selected as the Junior High director for the next four years. During that time the bands continued the tradition of First Division ratings and the Junior High band received the Outstanding Band Award at the Buccanneer Music Festival in 1961.

In 1962 Art moved to San Antonio and taught at McCollum High School in the Harlandale School District. After two years, he returned to the Valley and was hired by L.M. Snavely as an assistant director at McAllen High School in 1964.

Art has been band director at Travis, Lamar, and Brown Middle Schools in McAllen, as well as assistant director to L. M. Snavely, Ronnie Smith, Ray Guzman, Gary Zook, Paul Mann, and Darrell Anderson. He was director of the Second Group at McAllen High School for eleven years.

After retirement, Art taught for eight years part time at Rowe High School and McAllen High School as assistant to Joe Menchaca and Jim Egger.

Art resides in McAllen with his wife Mary, who is from Brownsville. They have four daughters, Laura, Kim, Linda, and Michelle. They enjoy traveling and spending time with the family and their grandchildren.

Some of the best memories Art has of the years spent teaching in the Rio Grande Valley are those of the camaraderie of the directors and the wonderful and talented students that he has had the priviledge to teach.

Lloyd Reitz

Lloyd P. Reitz was born May 14, 1902 in Cherokee, Oklahoma. He became the band director of Weslaco High School in 1930. Lloyd married Helen M. Scheideman in 1929. Helen was a clarinet player in the McCraken, Kansas municipal band that Lloyd conducted.

Prior to becoming the band director at Weslaco, Lloyd directed municipal bands in Los Fresnos and Harlingen along with a dance band, all of which were needed to make a living during the Great Depression.

Lloyd atttended Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas, studying music. He had a very solid background in piano and cornet.

The development of the Weslaco band program began in 1930. Lloyd was solely responsible for the beginner program, jr. high band, and the high school band. Over the years, the band program was successful and the accomplishments were many. The band won 1st place in the Regional competition and 1st place at the State level, which took place in Abilene. The competition in Abilene involved bands from Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. It lasted three days and included solos, ensembles, concert, and marching. The band won seven consecutive 1st place awards at the Regional level.

Students in the Weslaco band who eventually became band directors were Marion Busby, baritone, and Sam Guthridge, bassoon. Marion's future wife, Madine, was the solo oboist in the band.

Lloyd was known as "Mister" to his students and that's the way they addressed him.

He became the 10th President of TMEA, from 1936-1938. At the end of 1938 he ended his teaching at Weslaco and moved to San Antonio where he began selling instruments. He started his selling career in the basement of Southern Loan and Jewelry before it was to become Southern Music Company.

W. R. Snavely

Mr. Snavely began playing in the band in the 6th grade in Brownsville under the direction of James Murphy. The Golden Eagle Band was known and widely respected in the State of Texas as well as nationally. From Brownsville, W.R. went on to Baylor and was enrolled in the Music Education program. While at Baylor, he was a member of the Baylor Golden Wave Band, Acapella Choir, the Baylor Symphony Orchestra, and the Opera Orchestra.

Upon graduation from Baylor, his first job was in San Benito as Jr. High Director under the supervision of Don Watkins. The following year, W.R. was invited to go to Richardson with Joe Frank. The assignment was Jr. High Band Director and High School Choir Director. The Richardson Band, another Golden Eagle Band, was also known throughout the state and nation for its excellence. One memorable performance was at the Midwest Band Clinic in Chicago in 1964.

In 1965 he moved to Lampasas, Texas. This was a one-man program requiring W.R. to teach beginners as well as direct the jr. high band and high school band. Outstanding progress was made as the band went from a 4th division band to a 1st division band during W.R.'s tenure.

In 1967, he moved to the Rio Grande Valley to become head director at Harlingen High School. He then moved to Lyford, to teach from 1969 to 1979, and then taught in La Feria until his retirement in 1994. He then spent the next six years working part-time for the Raymondville ISD.

Mr. Snavely's career spanned 44 years. Aside from five years in Richardson and two years in Lampasas, the other 37 were spent teaching band students in the Rio Grande Valley.

W.R. is married to Shirley Miller of McAllen. They have been married for forty-three years. They have two children, Sherilyn Ann Durham, married to Butch Durham (former La Feria band student) and William R. Snavely, Jr. married to Stacey Mays (former Harlingen band student). The Snavely's are blessed with four grandchildren, Kathryn & Michelle Durham and W. R. III (Tre) & Dustyn Snavely. In 2006, the third generation of Snavelys marched in the Pigskin Jubilee.

W.R. is a charter member of the South Texas Chorale and also enjoys playing tuba in a group called "Celebration Brass". He spends his spare time working in his wood shop, volunteering at a local food pantry and at the Ronald McDonald House Charities.