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2011-2012 Hall of Fame Inductees

Susan Diaz

Janie Susan Dollins, known by all as Susan Diaz, was born in 1955 in Fairfax, South Carolina.  In 1958, the Dollins family, including older sister Christy, and younger brother Sam, moved to Edinburg, TX.

Susan joined band at Edinburg Middle School in Edinburg, TX as a clarinet player.  In seventh grade she switched to bassoon, and found her true passion.  She continued with the bassoon at Edinburg High School under the direction of Richard Bass and Joe Edmondson, becoming a three-year Texas All State musician from 1971-1973.  Even at a young age she was dedicated to music and during summer breaks, Susan and five of her best friends, Becky Booth, Margaret Wallace, Sarah Florence, Delanette Bates, and Caroline Minx, collectively known as the big six, participated in multiple band camps throughout Texas and the Midwest, including a month long camp at the University of Kansas where she performed under such conductors as Frederick Fennel, Colonel Arnald G. Gabriel, and William Revelli.

Upon graduating Edinburg High School in 1973, Susan continued her musical studies at Pan American University where she studied with Dr. Carl Seale and was a member of Mu Phi Epsilon.  While at Pan America, Susan was an active member of the Valley Symphony Orchestra, winning the concerto competition and performing Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto with the symphony.  She graduated in 1978 with a Bachelor of Music Education degree. Susan continued her studies by pursuing a masters degree at the University of North Texas and later at Sam Houston State University before moving to California to begin her teaching career.

In 1980, Susan returned to the Rio Grande Valley and became the assistant band director at Berta Cabaza Middle School in San Benito. Later that year she was appointed to head band director.  Under Susan, the band program was very successful, consistently earning Sweepstakes ratings at U.I.L., and her students always placed well in the All Valley Band competitions, including one year where she had the most number of students win chairs.  Susan also enjoyed taking her students to compete in marching parades.  She would travel all over the valley to give her students a chance to perform and showcase their musical talents.  While working at Berta Cabaza Jr. High, Susan met her husband, Rodolfo Diaz.

Susan left the middle school and became an assistant director in 1991 at San Benito High School.  The next year she joined the staff at Harlingen High School where she was given the opportunity to conduct the top band.  Together with head director James Keltner, and assistants Nora Rush and Dale LeMarr, they challenged their students to perform top band literature.  Susan cherished the success they shared together.

In 1996, Susan returned to the middle school level and started the band program at the newly built George G. Gutierrez, Jr. Middle School in Harlingen, TX.  Susan once again continued her students’ successes with U.I.L. Sweepstakes and placing at All Region band competitions. Under Susan’s direction, the Gutierrez band was the only middle school invited to perform at the 1999 Texas Gubernatorial Inaugural Parade for George W. Bush.

In 1996 and 1999 Susan was named to the Who’s Who Among American Teachers.  She was an active member of the Texas Adjudicators Association, the Texas Band Masters Association, and the Texas Musical Educators Association. She was also a clinician throughout the state of Texas.

On September 3, 2003 while on her way to school Susan was involved in a one-car accident and passed away. Susan Diaz’s legacy continues in the faculty, staff, and students she inspired over the 24 years as an educator, mentor, and friend.  On behalf of the Diaz and Dollin’s family, we would like to thank you for this honor.

Joe Menchaca

After graduation from Falfurrias High School in 1966, Joe Menchaca enrolled at Del Mar College where he studied with Dick Cole.  After receiving his Associates Degree he transferred to Texas A & I University where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education in 1970.  In 1974, Joe completed his Master’s Degree in Educational Supervision, also at A & I.

In his thirty seven year teaching career, Joe’s bands earned thirty UIL Sweepstakes Awards, twelve UIL 1st Division Marching Band Trophies, and a 5th place ranking at the Area Marching Band Contest in 2002.  He has been recognized for his many achievements with the high honor of being inducted into the International Band Directors Fraternity, Phi Beta Mu.  During his career Joe has taught Head Start, elementary music, band, and orchestra and served as a clinician as well as an adjudicator at UIL Marching Contests, UIL Band and Orchestra Concert and Sightreading Contests, and UIL Solo & Ensemble Contests, and, yes, he was even the President of the McAllen High School Football Quarterback Club in 1989-90.

Today, Joe enjoys doing consulting work with several districts, playing in the McAllen Symphonic Band (where he is the assistant director), and working at his pride and joy, El Montecito Ranch, where he raises cattle and enjoys country living.

Joe is married to his lovely bride of forty one years, Irene.  They have three sons, Joe Jr. (Michelle), Ramey (Aracely), and Javier (Kelly), and seven grandkids.