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2008-2009 Hall of Fame Inductees

Ramon Aguilar, III

Ramon Aguilar, III was born January 3, 1938 in Laredo, Texas, to Ramon Aguilar, Jr. and Concepcion Fuentes Aguilar.  He was born into a musical family.  He attended St. Joseph Academy in Laredo for his elementary and junior high years.  During this time, he began piano lessons at the age of 9, with his father being his first teacher.

Ramon attended Martin High School from 1952-54 and played in the Tiger Band under the direction of Ed Holt.  He learned to play the clarinet as a freshman at Martin High School.  He was given a clarinet book and sent to a practice room by Charles Hayes, the assistant band director.  In the spring semester, he was moved to the performing band and sat last chair in the clarinet section.  By his sophomore year, he was challenging for 1st chair.

In 1954 his family moved to Brownsville.  His father became the band director at St. Joseph Academy.  Ramon went to Brownsville High School and became a member of the Golden Eagle Band under the direction of James Murphy.  Sectionals were held every day before band, and band rehearsal would last long after the student body had gone home.  Roy Norton was the assistant band director.  The two years that he was in the BHS Golden Eagle band were a great musical experience.  Ramon graduated from high school in 1956.

Upon graduation from high school, he received a scholarship to the University of Texas and was a member of the Longhorn Band, the “Showband of the Southwest” as well as the University’s Symphonic Band.  Joe Frank Elsas was the director of the Symphonic Band and Vincernt R. DiNino was the director of the Longhorn Band.  In January of 1961, Ramon marched with the Longhorn Band in John F. Kennedy’s inaugural parade in Washington, D. C.  While in the Longhorn Band, he went to all the football games and bowls that UT participated in.

In 1961-63, he got his first teaching job in Rio Grande City, Texas.  Roque Guerra was the head band director then.  Marion Busby had recommended Ramon for the job.  Also teaching there was Victor Lozano, a high school friend from Laredo and a graduate of the University of Texas.

Ramon taught in Mercedes with Avie Teltschik from 1963-68, as an assistant band director in high school and director of the junior high school band.  From 1968-76 he was the high school band director.  His bands earned several Sweepstakes during his stay in Mercedes.

He received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Texas in 1965.  In 1967, he went to North Texas State University in Denton, Texas and earned his Masters of Music Education Degree in 1971.

In 1976 Ramon was hired by Gary Zook, then director of the McAllen High School Band, to be the director of the Lincoln Junior High School Band.  While at Lincoln, his bands received several Sweepstakes.  Also, two of his bands were selected Best in Class AA, at the McAllen City of Palms Band Festival.  In the 1983-84 school year, the top band advanced to the Texas Music Educators Association Honor Band contest as a Finalist, and earned fourth place in the state.

In 1980 he married Marcy Landez, and they had a son, Ramon Aguilar IV.  In 1985 Ramon moved to Morris Junior High, which later became Morris Middle School and worked there for the next ten years.  Under his direction the Morris Symphonic Band earned nine Sweepstakes.  In June 1986 his wife, Marcy, passed away.  Ramon retired from teaching band in June 1995, after an enjoyable 34 year career.

From 1996 to 1998 Ramon tutored clarinets at Edinburg North HS, Memorial MS, and South MS.  During the 1997-98 school year, he and Art Ratley started a beginner band at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in McAllen, teaching there for a year and a half.  To stay active in his music career, he started teaching private lessons on flute, clarinet and saxophone at Melhart Music Center, which he is still doing today.

Ramon is a member of Kappa Kappa Psi, the University of Texas Longhorn Alumni Band, Texas Bandmasters Association and Texas Music Educators Association.

Alfredo “Al” Cortinas

Alfredo Cortinas is the son of Mr. & Mrs. Selso and Beatriz Cortinas from Taft, Texas.  He comes from a family of 4 Sisters and 2 Brothers.  Al was educated in the town’s school system where he graduated from Taft High School.  Mr. Cortinas received his Bachelor of Music and Masters in Music Degrees from Texas A & I University in Kingsville, Texas.

Mr. Cortinas’ band directing career began in 1970 when he was first employed at Sterling B. Martin Junior High, in Corpus Christi Texas. In 1972, he went on to be Assistant Band Director for Crystal City ISD which was then under the direction of  Mr. Roberto Botello. Al moved to Rio Grande City in 1973 and became the band director at Ft. Ringgold Middle School for three (3) years.  In 1976,  Mr. Cortinas became the High School Band Director of Rio Grande City High School and remained until 1994.  Former Superintendent, Walter Watson, hired Mr. Cortinas in 1994 to serve as Director of Bands for the Roma ISD and retired in June of 2000.    Upon “retirement” he worked for the  La Joya ISD and Mr. Ruben Adame for three years where he taught the Concert Band for one year and assisted the middle schools of the district.  Mr. Cortinas returned to Roma ISD in 2004 as an Assistant Band Director, with Mr. Rudy Barrera, teaching Euphonium for three (3) years.  Al returned to Rio Grande City and works with Mr. Roger Olivarez teaching flute and directs the Rio Grande City Symphonic Band at Rio Grande City High School.

With 38 years of teaching experience, Mr. Cortinas is a well respected Band Director in the profession.  He is an active member of the Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Bandmasters Association, Phi Beta Mu International Band Fraternity, and is a founding member of the Rio Grande Valley Band Director Hall of Fame.  He has also served on the Board of Phi Beta Mu and is a current member of the Texas Phi Beta Mu Hall of Fame Committee.  Mr. Cortinas has been an Adjudicator and Clinician in various parts of the State.  Al has resided in Rio Grande City, Texas for the past 35 years where he has been very active within his community. He presently serves both Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and Immaculate Conception Catholic School as a Eucharistic Minister and head of the school council.

Mr. Cortinas’ biggest pride and joy is his family.  He is married to Sonja M. Smith-Cortinas and they have two daughters, Abbygail Nicole (10), a 5th grade student at Immaculate Conception Catholic School, and Ella Renee (1).

“Being selected to be a part of the class of 2009 is indeed a humbling honor for me.  I have truly been blessed, by God, for all he has allowed me to have; this is indeed one of those great gifts.  I thank the committee for having selected me, and I also thank the countless people who have had a part in making my career possible.  I fear that if I start naming people I will leave someone out, but there have been many who have impacted my life and many that still continue to do so.  I truly do need to Honor my Mother and Father for having provided me with the guidance and encouragement to always work hard, respect others, be happy, and above all to be kind but firm.”

Gary Zook

Gary Zook was born April 4, 1933, on a small farm in Wilson County, Texas, five miles south of Floresville. He attended Floresville public schools and played in the band under the direction of “Uncle” Fritz Teltschik. After graduation from Floresville High School in 1950, Gary enrolled at McMurry College in Abilene, Texas, as a Music Education major under the guidance of Dr. Raymond T. “Prof’ Bynum. He received his B.S. in Music Education from McMurry in 1954. Later he returned to McMurry and completed his M.Ed. in secondary administration in 1959.

In 1954, the Korean conflict and the specter of the military draft seemed to stand in the way of a permanent teaching position, so Gary auditioned for and was accepted into the Fourth Army Band at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio. After completion of Army basic training at beautiful Ft. Bliss, and a six-month assignment at the U.S. Navy School of Music in Washington, D.C., Gary returned to Ft. Sam Houston, and served the remainder of his military service playing saxophone and flute with the Fourth Army Band. It was during this time that he met and married his life¬long partner, Virginia, who, among other things, ensured that he would never want for a great oboe player in his bands by providing him with two All-Staters, son, Keith, and daughter, Jan.

Gary’s teaching career finally began in 1957, as band director in Albany, Texas. In 1958, he moved to Olney, Texas, as band and choir director at Olney High School. In 1964, he left Olney to accept a position as director of bands in Canyon, Texas. One of the highlights in his band directing career came in 1969, when his Canyon High School Band was selected TMEA Honor Band. In 1970, Gary accepted a position with the McAllen Independent School District as Director of Bands.

One the most important events for the McAllen High School Band was the International Spring Fiesta Concert. Appearing with the band were guest conductors, which included the late Col. Harold Bachman, and CDR. Donald W. Stauffer, director of the U.S. Navy Band, as well as numerous soloists such as Alfred Gallodoro, Don Jacoby, Bobby Herriot, and Harvey Pittel. Gary also was instrumental in establishing the City of Palms Band Festival, which was held in conjunction with the International Spring Fiesta. The McAllen High School Band was honored in 1973, with an invitation to perform at halftime at Texas Stadium for the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles game.

Gary left band directing in 1978, but during his twenty-one year career his bands received more than fifty Superior ratings in UIL competition including fourteen Sweepstakes awards, as well as First Division ratings at Buccaneer Days, Six Flags Over Texas, and Six Flags Over Georgia band festivals. He served as adjudicator in UIL and other band competitions throughout Texas and Oklahoma and taught summer band camps at McMurry, West Texas State, Midwestern University, and TCU.

Gary became assistant principal or as Dr. Gary Garner put it, “went over to the enemy” at McAllen High School in 1978 and remained in that position for three years. In 1981, he was promoted to principal at McAllen High School and served in that capacity until his retirement in 1989. He and Virginia moved back to the farm in Floresville where their lives are controlled by cows instead of kids.