JOSEPH HARRY CASTELLANO
My full name is Joseph Harry Castellano, (also known as J. H., Joe, Harry, Harry Joe) born in Laredo, TX on March 13, 1938, the fourth of six (three brothers, two sisters). I grew up in Laredo at a time where you could play ball on the streets and roam around the neighborhood without any problems.
I started band when I reached the seventh grade under Chuck Hayes, who had just graduated from VanderCook School of Music in Chicago. I started on a used satin silver Conn Alto sax, which was also used by my sister when she started band years later. Moving on to high school, I started to play the baritone sax. I was on the small side and the bari appeared to overwhelm me. My director, Mr. Ed Holt, used to kid me about putting a roller skate under the bari to lessen the burden when I marched. Mr. Holt left the summer before my senior year and Mr. Elmo Lopez, who was the director at one of the junior highs, took over. As I was one of the leaders in the band, he invited me to ride with him to San Antonio to interview a new Junior High Director at the 1955 TBA Convention. So I can say I attended my first TBA Convention in 1955 at the Gunter Hotel where all the activities were located then. In 1956, the band hall at Martin High burned down about a month before UIL. We worked really hard and rallied to earn the school its first Sweepstakes Award. I received the John Phillip Sousa Award upon graduation and followed fellow directors-to-be Robert Botello, Victor Lozano, and Elpidio Lizcano to the University of Texas at Austin. After three years, I joined the Army Reserve and had to go to basic training. When I returned, the opportunity to perform professionally with the Luis Arcaraz Orchestra presented itself. I toured for two years and returned to school after his tragic death in an automobile accident.
I graduated in 1965 and began my teaching career at Hallettsville ISD as the sole director for a 2A school. During my second year the district integrated all campuses. This was history in the making for me.
After three years at Hallettsville, the position at Industrial High School opened and I was invited to interview. I was hired in the morning of the first day of August band practice, but as I was sporting the hair style of the times (which did not sit well with the Superintendent), I had to get a haircut before the evening rehearsal. Back then, barber shops did not open on Mondays. I finally found one in the seedy part of the next town and got butchered. Anyway, that's how I started my 22 years at Industrial ISD. During those twenty-two years, I had Otto McGuffee, John Walton, David Currey, Mike Cole, and Steven Weber as my assistants. I am especially proud of two 2nd divisions, one from Mark Hinsley and one from William Revelli. Besides having some of the best assistants and the directors already mentioned, I owe much to the many mentors I have had over the years. To name a few: Bill Skelton, Nat Alewine, Fred Junkin, Bryce Taylor, Eddie Galvan, Eddie Zamora, Pat Norton, Billy Harrell, Mike and Fred Fassino, Joe Wassel, Dr. Joe Bellamah, Larry Lindsley, Harry and Jan Schmidt, and the Toms – Tom Rhodes, Tommy Williamson and Tom Lee. This is a short list, but I know there are many others.
My move to San Antonio brought me back to one of my loves, directing and playing in a jazz band. Since my retirement, I started to play tenor sax for the River City Big Band here in San Antonio.
I want to thank my family here with me, for the love and support over the years: my oldest brother, Dave; brother, Jesse, his wife, Edna; brother, Bene, his wife, Marta; sisters Jane, and Josie with her husband, Eddie, and all the nieces and nephews. I also want to thank my many friends and colleagues who supported me throughout my career. But the journey would not be complete without mentioning the family that made this honor possible, my kids from Hallettsville, Industrial, and Highlands. I know there are some here, so from me to you, my continued love and affection for making this possible for me. Phi Beta Mu, thank you for naming me to this prestigious award. I will cherish it forever.
Mr. Castellano passed away in August of 2016.