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2014-2015 Hall of Fame Inductees

Joe Edmonson

Joe Edmonson was born in Harlingen to Nolan and Darcia Edmonson. Educated in the Harlingen school system, he began his music education as a member of the Gay Jr. High Band under the direction of Art Ratley. Art created an exciting atmosphere that made all of his students enjoy being in band. Joe attended Harlingen High School and played trombone in the Harlingen High School Band under the direction of Carl Seale. Mr. Seale’s selection of music intrigued Joe, but it was his music theory class that began to put music into perspective. Carl Seale taught music theory through composition with every assignment requiring an original piece of music, even if only eight bars. The theory class studied everything from orchestration to twelve-tone and this experience was one of the most significant influences in Joe’s musical career.

Upon graduating from high school, Joe entered Texas A&I University in Kingsville. A&I offered many opportunities for Joe to study, write and arrange music. His twelve-tone piece was performed on a recital and he wrote and directed original incidental music for three one act plays. Joe was appointed drum major of the A&I Band his senior year which gave him the experience of writing and teaching drill. Joe enjoyed the opportunity to work with Dr. Joe Bellamah. Dr. Joe provided his students with a glimpse into the history of bands by sharing his personal stories about the “good old days.”

Joe’s first teaching position was band director in Three Rivers,Texas. It was a wonderful learning experience for Joe and his 48 band students. After two years in Three Rivers, Joe was hired by Pat McNallen to direct the Edinburg Jr. High Band. The band successfully participated in the Pigskin Jubilee and was selected to represent Region 15 at the TMEA Honor Band competition, placing 5th in the State. Joe then became an assistant to Pat McNallen at Edinburg High School. The position offered Joe a chance to use his musical skills by arranging music, writing half-time shows, directing the stage band and teaching low brass and percussion. This Edinburg High School experience also allowed him to manage the financials of the band program, which would prove to be very useful in the future.

After Edinburg, Joe was the head band director in Gonzales, Texas. For two years he, his assistant and Jr. High director ran a program of over 450 students. While in Gonzales he started a jazz band and assisted directing musicals in addition to his regular band duties. In 1979, Joe had an opportunity to move to Weslaco to assist Weldon Parkhill, head director. It was here he began writing and arranging corps style drill and music for the Weslaco Band. He became the head director in Weslaco in 1980 after Mr. Parkhill left to work for Melhart Music. Joe directed the Weslaco Band for four years which produced many memorable marching and concert performances.

Upon the tragic death of Joe’s friend and mentor Pat McNallen in 1984, Joe was asked to return to Edinburg to direct the Edinburg Band Program. He returned without hesitation. During his six years as head director and with the help of enthusiastic students, parents and staff, the Edinburg Band was able to carry on the tradition of exciting performances of the McNallen bands. In Joe’s last year as head director, the Edinburg Band placed 14th at UIL State Marching Contest.

Edinburg, a growing community, had decided to open a new high school and Joe left band directing in 1990 to become Director of Fine Arts for the Edinburg School District. The job included responsibilities for all bands, choirs, orchestras, elementary music, theater arts, visual arts, drill team and cheerleader programs. Joe was also responsible for curriculum and budget development for the Fine Arts Department and adapted computer programs and Region I services to better serve the Arts.

As Director of Fine Arts, the most successful innovation was a system to provide individualized instruction using professionals, college students and retired directors. With this system more students were able to get individualized instruction than ever before. Before retirement, Joe assisted in opening two additional high schools and two middle schools.

After 34 years in education, Joe retired in 2002. Joe and his wife Susan, both retired, spend much of their time at their cabin in Medina, Texas. They also love to travel and visit their children: Jordan and his wife Alana; Courtney and her husband Tony and their 3 children, Myra, Sonia and Sammy. Music and education have always been at the center of Joe’s life. He has enjoyed the challenges of being a director, but knows that a student’s education is the most valuable thing he has to offer.

Roel Elizondo

Roel Elizondo was born in Zapata, Texas to the union of Francisco Elizondo and Eusebia Lopez. He is the sixth child of six brothers and three sisters. Roel attended the Zapata ISD school district and was a member of the band program from fifth grade all the way through high school. His first Band Director was Mr. Jose Espinosa and the last two years he had Mr. Arnoldo Flores as his Director. After graduation, Roel attended Laredo Junior College for a year and then transferred to Texas A &I University in Kingsville Texas. While at A&I he was a member of the marching, symphonic, and jazz band, all under the direction of Dr. Joseph Bellamah. Before his graduation, Roel did his student teaching in Falfurrias High School under Mr. Solomon Banda and Mr. Joe Menchaca.

Roel started his teaching career in Zapata in 1974 with Mr. Gilbert Colunga. After his first year, he would become the band director for the next three years, almost doubling the number of students in the program. He also introduced the TMEA process to the students.

In 1978, Roel was offered the job as director of the Concert Band at Rio Grande City High School by high school director Alfredo Cortinas. After 5 years of being the director of the concert band, he took over the position of director at Ringgold Middle School, a position he would hold for 21 years.

After leaving Ringgold, he would be assistant band director at the high school for 3 years under Rogerio Olivarez. When Veterans Middle School opened, Roel was asked to open the school as its first band director. His bands in the Rio Grande City CISD were always consistent sweepstakes bands. They won several Best In Class Awards in Six Flags over Mid-America, Fiesta Texas, American Classics, and the La Joya Band Festivals. His bands represented the old Region 15 in the Honor Band process three times and was a state finalist in 1996.

As a private teacher his students have done well from region to the state level in the TMEA process. In his career in Rio Grande City, his students were selected to an All-State organization 40 times. Roel is a member of the following organizations: Phi Mu Alpha, TMEA, TBA, and Phi Beta Mu. He retired in 2012 and spends his time in Rio Grande City and Zapata. He enjoys volunteering to judge at the region levels, does band judging in the area, and also teaches part-time in area schools.

Richard Gibby

Richard Lowell Gibby was born to Edithand Earl R. Gibby in Mercedes, Texas, on December 17, 1939. He grew up and attended schools in Weslaco, Texas. Many of his Welsh ancestors were teachers and musicians. “Riney” Hunger, Richard’s junior high teacher in Weslaco, was responsible for developing a love of music in Richard. He began playing the tuba in the seventh grade, and in those days junior high was part of the high school marching band so Richard participated in the Pigskin Jubilee at a very early age.

Later in his career, he was invited back to conduct the finale. At Weslaco High School, his directors were Dr. Gene Braught, (later the mayor of Weslaco), and Marion Busby. These two directors also had a tremendous influence on Richard becoming a band director. During high school, Richard was actively involved in band as well as being on the debate team and acquiring Who’s Who in Chemistry.

Following graduation in 1958, he entered Texas A & I in Kingsville in pursuit of a business degree. This did not work out so Dr. Braught, who was now the band director at Del Mar College, encouraged Richard to attend that college and become a band director. Upon completing Del Mar, Richard transferred to Sam Houston State University and became actively involved in the band as well as the ROTC programs. While a member of Kappa Kappa Psi, he and his fraternity brothers worked at the then famous prison rodeos in October. At SHSU, he met and married Nancy Ann Oertel on November 23, 1961.

At mid-term, Richard became ill so he and Nancy moved to Weslaco where Richard taught fourth grade on an emergency certificate and attended Pan American College where he finished his B.A. degree in 1963. He earned a whopping $3,800 annual salary and Nancy earned 75 cents per hour working at the John Deere Implement place in Weslaco. Richard also worked at a crop dusting firm and ran cotton pickers in the summers. At that time, cotton pickers were not enclosed nor air conditioned.

Richard visited music stores where band director position openings would be known and Claxton Music led him to Larry Jones, band director at Donna High School. Larry hired Richard to be the director at Moye Junior High and assistant at the high school. They remained very close friends for many years. Richard received a Division 3 his first year and wanted to quit teaching. Larry encouraged him to continue and the next four years the Moye band received First Divisions.

In 1967, Richard applied for the head position at Donna High School after Larry left teaching. This same year, daughter Kimberley was born. During his five years spent in Donna, the band earned Five Sweepstakes. These were the days when football players could play in the band and the coach’s twin boys played football and marched in their football uniforms at halftime.

In 1971, the Redskin Band placed third in the AAA Honor Band placement at TBA. This band also won many awards at festivals such as Six Flags Over Texas and Buccaneer Days. Richard was continually visiting other highly respected Valley directors for advice and to listen to his tapes. He always said a teacher can never quit learning. Dianne Brumley, wife of another RGVBDHOF member and first time teacher, was hired at DHS as its choral director. Richard loved to tease her. Dianne had quite a successful career at DHS. It is an honor to know the Brumley family.

In 1972, Richard moved his family to 5A Dickinson High School where the band received a Sweepstakes. But Dickenson was not the place for the Gibby family to stay. In 1973, out of more than 30 applicants, Richard was offered the head band director position at Uvalde High School. The Uvalde Band had always received poor ratings at UIL. Richard outlined his expectations and many students chose to drop band. But during the next 7 years, the enrollment grew and the Band Boosters even air conditioned the band hall. Even though most students could not afford private lessons, Richard had some All-Staters. All 7 years in Uvalde, the band made 7 consecutive Sweepstakes as well as placing in the AAA Honor Band placement twice. Richard and his family were very much loved in Uvalde and when he left in 1980, the Band Boosters honored him with a big reception at the Convention Center.

In 1980, Richard moved his family to Round Rock where he became the head director of the 5A Round Rock High School. While there, the Dragon band earned 13 out of a possible 14 Sweepstakes.

In 1982, the Dragon band was invited to participate in a Goodwill tour of Mexico City, and in 1983 excitement rose when Richard announced that the band had been invited to march in the Tournament of Roses Parade on January 2, 1984. It was also in 1983 that this band received Senate and House Resolutions signed by Governor Mark White.