CHARLES L. KUENTZ, JR.
Charles was born in 1935, in San Antonio, TX, the third child of Mr. and Mrs. Charles L Kuentz, Sr. He began his music education on trumpet at a young age and took private lessons from Frank "Pop" Sturchio. He attended Horace Mann Middle School and then attended Thomas Jefferson High School. After graduating from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1952, he attended Texas Lutheran College where he graduated in 1958 after earning his Bachelor of Science degree with a major in music.
While attending Texas Lutheran College, he met and married Judith (Judy) Brown, also from San Antonio. They have been married for over fifty-six years and have a large and loving family. They had six children, three boys and three girls. Four of the children became educators, three in the Northside ISO: Chuck, who retired as head band director at Clark High School and is now teaching at UTSA; Jennifer, who is head band director at Rawlinson Middle School; Marci, who teaches third grade at Krueger Elementary School, and Kimberly, who teaches elementary school in Powhatan, VA. Their son Gary is a master electrician, and their son Raymond is deceased. Their family now numbers thirty-four members, including eighteen grandchildren, grandsons-in-law and granddaughter-in-law, and five great-grandchildren.
Charles' thirty-two year band directing career began in 1958 in Rocksprings, TX. For a new teacher this experience was quite an eye-opener. The band hall was an old barracks building with music scattered everywhere. The acoustics were so poor that cardboard egg cartons had to be stapled to the walls and ceiling.
After two years, he moved to Charlotte, TX, and three years later to Three Rivers, TX. During the 1960's a popular song was the theme from "Peter Gunn”. At one of the Three River football games against Orange Grove, Charles led the band in the popular "Peter Gunn” theme song, not knowing that this was Orange Grove's fight song. The Orange Grove team and supporters jumped up and down with delight, while the football players sitting on the bench ran over to thank him.
After five years in Three Rivers, he moved to San Antonio. His first job was in the San Antonio ISO, as band director at Page Middle School. After one year, the Jefferson High School position opened up and Charles became their band director in 1969. In 1970, he and the family moved to Leon Valley. When it became apparent that all family members were having different school schedules, he applied for and began teaching at Hobby Middle School and the beginner band programs in Northside ISO.
In 1975 he became head band director at John Marshall High School in NISD. He brought new heights and accomplishments during his tenure there: marching in the Tournament of Roses Parade, performing at Houston Oiler halftimes, first place at Parade of Champions at the Cotton Bowl, and consistent Sweepstakes in UIL Marching, Concert, and Sightreading Contests. The motto "The Pride" was coined during his time at Marshall and the band was named "The Pride of John Marshall." During one Tournament of Roses Parade, Charles and his wife Judy had driven the parade route the day before, and noticed that there were palm trees in the median, marking the end of the parade route. The next day, during the parade, their son Ray, who played clarinet in the band, asked him, "Dad, how much farther to the end?" Taking a look Charles said, "Those palm trees up ahead are at the end of the parade." An hour later, the palm trees he thought to be in the median never got any closer, because they were on a float several blocks ahead!
After five years at Marshall, Charles had a strong desire to build his own home --out of logs. Knowing the demands of a high school band program would leave him little free time, he decided to move to middle school and teach the younger band students. In 1982 he left Marshall to open Rudder Middle School, where he was the band director until his retirement in 1992.
Charles' public school teaching career may have concluded with his retirement in 1992, but his legacy in the community will be felt for many generations. Countless numbers of his students have now become band parents (or band grandparents). An impressive number of former students have become either music teachers or professional musicians.
Charles possesses many skills: mechanical skills, construction skills, and the ability to generate ideas when needed. In 1984 he utilized these skills to build a 4200 square foot log home in the Hill Country outside of Helotes. He designed it, built it, and did the finishing work inside. He and Judy are still living in it today.
He has a variety of interests that keep him occupied: auto mechanics- he restored two pick-ups; boats he restored three pontoon boats (one of his own), fishing, making furniture, and camping. He and his wife Judy love to travel. They are avid RVers, who have traveled all over the U.S. either in their motorhome or now in their 5th wheel trailer. They also enjoy sightseeing the beautiful Texas Hill Country while riding their Honda Goldwing motorcycle.
In 2009 Charles' name was submitted as a namesake for a new elementary school that Northside lSD was building in the Helotes, TX, area. With over-whelming pride, Charles L. Kuentz, Jr. Elementary School was built on the actual farmland that once belonged to his maternal grandfather, H. T. Brauchle (the first school teacher in the Helotes area that later became Northside I.S.D.) Charles spent much of his youth in the fields where the school is now, helping bring in the hay, playing with his cousins, and just having adventures during his youth. What a turn-around in time to have these youngsters playing and learning where he spent a lot of his young years.
In 2008, Charles returned to band directing. He is currently the director of the Helotes Area Community Band. In the four years of its existence it has grown from seven to over fifty members. Members of the band include six family members; former students from both Jefferson and Marshall; professional musicians; and wonderful people who just love to play their horns. This is very special for Charles and they have become his musical family.
For Charles, his induction into the Texas Bandmasters Hall of Fame is the supreme honor of his professional life. Charles extends his most heartfelt gratitude to Mr. Billy Harrell for nominating him and Phi Beta Mu for bestowing this honor.