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2023-2024 Hall of Fame Inductees

 Rene Guzman

Rene Guzman was born in Laredo, Texas, the third child of Jesus and Marina Laurel Guzman. His father, an independent trucker for HEB moved the family to Brownsville in 1954.  Rene started playing cornet during 4th grade in Brownsville with band director Joy Humphries. He was often 1st chair except for the times he would get busted to last chair for talking too much. During 5th grade, Miss Humphries brought her French Horn to class and announced that there were school Horns available, so Rene volunteered to switch. While at Stell JH taught by Don Curtis, Rene got to march with the Brownsville High School Golden Eagle Band under the direction of Robert Vezzetti. One of Rene’s best memories was performing West Point Symphony on the Brownsville HS Band tape which was chosen TMEA Honor Band in 1964. Rene has always been proud of the music instruction and inspiration he received while growing up in Brownsville.

In 1964, the family moved back to Laredo and Rene’s band directors were Elmo Lopez and Edgardo Bueno at Nixon            High School, and Elpidio Lizcano and Victor Lozano at Martin High School. In 1967, Mr. Lozano arranged for Dr.Joe Bellamah of Texas A&I Kingsville to audition Rene for a music scholarship. At A&I he studied Horn with Dr. Merton Johnson, and was selected to “Men and Women of Music” during his sophomore and junior year. He was also in the first pledge class of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.

At that time the Vietnam War was raging and Rene received his draft notice after his junior year in Kingsville. He was sent to basic training in New Jersey and Maryland, and was finally assigned to a unit of the Army Reserve in Laredo. Upon returning to Kingsville Rene student taught with Bryce Taylor in Alice and graduated the summer of 1972. It was also during this time that he met Linda LaForce, a fellow Horn player who was to become his wife.

Bryce Taylor advised Rene to interview for a position at Eagle Pass High School with Head Director Joe Silva. He worked there until his father passed away in 1974. Then he went home to Laredo to be with his mother and accepted an assistant director position at Martin HS with Roberto Botello and Francisco Sosa. In 1977 Rene accepted an assistant director position at Mercedes HS and soon became Head Director. He taught at Mercedes ISD for 24 years.

The Mercedes bands directed by Rene Guzman earned many UIL 1st divisions and sweepstakes awards, and placed numerous students in the TMEA All-Region, Area, and All-State bands. He produced an award-winning Jazz Band which provided entertainment for the Mercedes Community and many Winter Texan Parks and never refused an invitation to perform. The Mercedes High School Band earned many awards at marching festivals, including first place at Eagle Pass, San Antonio Rough Rider, and Austin Westlake. In 1982, the Mercedes Tiger Band was ranked 4th in Class AAAA at the Texas State Marching Contest and ranked 8th again in 1988. And of course the Tiger Band marched Concert French Horns.  Although Rene taught band students grades 6-12, he does not claim sole success of the Mercedes Band Program. Much credit goes to Mercedes Junior High School director Linda Guzman as well as great associate directors/private instructors Sharon Pena, Vidal Flores, Celeste Canant, Willie Perez, Trish Templin, Rene Villarreal, Belinda Rosa and Cory Bell.

Rene’s philosophy is simple: the kids must have fun while they are learning to perform. Students and their band directors should demonstrate respect and courtesy to each other. The students must believe that their director sincerely cares about them. Also, Rene traveled with his bands throughout Texas, Florida and California so that his students could see more of the world. He remembered the places his directors took him and Rene wanted to provide this for his students.

During his career in the Valley, Rene served as TMEA Region 15 Band Vice-Chairman and Chairman. He also hosted many TMEA auditions and UIL Solo & Ensemble Contests. He is very proud of his time in Mercedes and of the musicians who came from the Tiger Band. Many of his kids have gone on to become performers and music teachers. To this day, Rene enjoys keeping in touch with his former students.

At retirement, in 2003, Rene completed 31 years as a Texas Band Director in Eagle Pass, Laredo, Mercedes, and Weslaco. He also completed 16 years in the Texas National Guard “Governor’s Band” based at Camp Mabry Austin, and received an Honorable Discharge from the US Army. He continues to work at Valley school districts as a private consultant and helps Melhart Music Center with instrument drives. Rene still plays Horn as a member of the McAllen Symphonic Band. One of his favorite activities is riding his motorcycle around Texas. He has become alpha to his collie pack Mac & Molly, and enjoys traveling to dog shows/herding tests with them and his wife, Linda. Lastly, whether it’s Grand Funk, Tower of Power, Zepplin, Hendrix, The Beatles, Metheny or John Rutter – Rene is always listening to music. He’s has sound systems at home in the living room, patio, garage, and office. Rene loves music and hopes that he has passed his love of music on to his students.

Santos Lujan

Born and raised in Big Spring, Texas, Santos Lujan is the oldest of three children born to Santos and Erlinda Lujan.    He and Mary Lou have been married for 40 years and have two children:  Santos III, 27 and Adrianna, 26.  They also have two beautiful granddaughters, Amorie, 3 and AnnaLee, 2.   Santos and Mary Lou, an RN with 33 years’ experience as a school nurse, retired from public education in February, 2010.

As a child, Santos was fascinated by his Uncle Frank Marin’s orchestra. An outstanding saxophone player, his orchestra was extremely popular during the 1940s, 50’s and early 1960’s, with a fan base from El Paso to Dallas. When Santos entered 7th grade in 1961, he begged his parents to allow him to join the Runnels Junior High band.  Somehow, his father managed the $10 down payment and $10 monthly payment for a $200 King alto sax.  His high school years under Mr. Doug Wiehe were a beautiful experience.  The Big Spring High School Band was one of the most outstanding bands of the era, with many years of sweepstakes and honors.  All Steer Band alumni can certainly recall Mr. Wiehe’s calm and quiet manner of demanding the best in performance and behavior. His students loved and respected him so much they could never disappoint him.  In 1964, the Steer Band came in second in honor band competition to none other than Bob Vezzetti’s outstanding Brownsville High Band.

Graduation in 1967 gave Santos the opportunity to earn a music scholarship and focus on a music education degree.  After two years at Howard County Junior College, he transferred to West Texas State University with a music scholarship and completed his degree in December of 1971.  In January, 1972, he began his career as an assistant to Mike Barry at Reagan County ISD in Big Lake, Texas and after a year and a half, was promoted to head director.  One of the most interesting points of his hiring in Big Lake is the fact that Santos was the first Hispanic teacher to be hired by the school district.   Santos is grateful to Big Lake, TX for allowing him to grow and develop as a band director and for making his 5 plus years there very memorable and pleasant.

During the summer of 1977, Santos was recommended for the Raymondville band director position by Dr. Gary Garner at WTSU and at his urging, decided to accept the position. The RISD administration and Board instructed him to build an excellent band program that would involve as many children as possible and would incorporate high discipline and performance standards.  The 1977 enrollment included the following:  6 grade – 30 students; Jr. High – 35 students; High School – 70 students.  Over the next few years, the Bearkat Band grew at an incredible rate, eventually totaling 520 students in grades 6-12. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Bearkat Band had an enrollment of 220 students.  The Bearkat Band earned many first division ratings in all areas of UIL and festival competition. Membership of the band included the majority of the following organizations:  National Honor Society, Academic Top Ten%, Student Council, Class Officers, FFA, and athletics.   The band program consisted of the marching band, two concert bands, a jazz band and a mariachi combo.  The Bearkat Band became a huge source of community pride and was honored various times in resolution by the RISD Board and Mayor and City Council.  A special thank you to the band staff who contributed so much to the success of the Bearkat Band over the years.

In 1993, Santos was promoted to assistant superintendent for business and operations and was made superintendent of Raymondville ISD in January, 1997.  In 2001, Santos was selected superintendent of Kermit ISD in West Texas, retiring in 2010, after 40 years in education.

Audrey Paterson

Audrey Ann Paterson and her husband Chaplain George Paterson came to Brownsville in 1975 at the request of Bob Vezzetti, then Supervisor of Music for the Brownsville Public Schools.  Pace High School had just opened and with personnel adjustments Stell Junior High School had a position to be filled.  Audrey was without a job, but found work as a woodwind instructor at the college in Brownsville.

Three years later she was hired as woodwind instructor for the Brownsville School System.  She taught at Hanna, Pace, Porter, and the four junior high schools in those days – Central, Cummings, Stell, and Faulk.

In 1988, when her youngest child graduated from Los Fresnos High School, together with her husband George, moved onboard their 35 foot Coronado Sailboat for a year and a half cruise of the Caribbean.  They returned to Texas in 1990 with Audrey teaching in Houston at La Porte High School and George at Channelview.

After the round robin came into effect, Audrey’s job was eliminated in the middle of the year and they spent a half year teaching in Donna until the following year when they went to Los Fresnos.  George was the Junior High School director and Audrey taught all woodwinds at the junior high and high school.  They both retired from the Texas Education System in 1998, but Audrey wasn’t through yet.  She went on to be a woodwind instructor with the Los Fresnos and Harlingen School District for the next 11 years.

On June 6, 2009 Audrey contracted a brain tumor and passed away December 20, 2010.  She has had a teaching career that spanned 46 years and left joy in all the students and directors she ever worked with.