Bob Lewis was born on August 6, 1926, in Abilene, Texas. In 1937 his parents, Opal and Bryan Lewis, braved difficult economic times and purchased a well-used King coronet for thirty dollars. Bob started band class in the seventh grade with beloved Hall of Fame band director Dr. Raymond T. Bynum. For the next four years Bob played in the Abilene Eagle Band, the orchestra, and the Stardusters stage band, graduating in 1943.
"Prof” Bynum was a superior band director and his inspiring teaching of music, citizenship, and his high standard of personal character served as the basis for many fine teaching and professional playing careers.
Bob attended Hardin-Simmons University and North Texas State University, playing trumpet in the concert band, the orchestra, and the "Aces of College Land" before joining the U.S. Army where he rose to the rank of tech-sergeant and was with the first troops to occupy Japan.
In October of 1946, Bob returned to Hardin-Simmons University, and the first person he met back on campus was a former high school classmate, Celeste (Lessie) Norvell. Celeste was a virtuoso violinist and an excellent cellist, pianist, organist, and vocalist. Bob and Celeste married in January of 1948 and were blessed with six children: Chris (deceased), Gregory, Theresa, Mary Anna, David, Gabriel, seventeen grandchildren, and twelve great-grandchildren. Until her death in 2007, Celeste was Bob's beautiful inspiration and his ardent band booster.
Bob was trumpet soloist in the H.S.U. Cowboy Band and later played in the Abilene, San Angelo, and San Antonio symphonies, numerous dance and show bands, and directed the Hemisfair Marching Band. He graduated from H.S.U. in 1948 with the Bachelor of Music degree, did a year of graduate study, and later earned the Master of Education degree at Our Lady of the Lake University.
Starting in 1949, Bob was band director of Sanderson one year, Abilene South Jr. High one year, Hondo High School for six years and Northside I.S.D. for thirty-three years. In 1951, Al Sturchio started the band in Hondo, and in his always-exemplary manner started a fine group of beginners, grades three through eight. Al entered the service during the Korean War and Bob became the director in October of that year. The program flourished and the citizens of Hondo loved their band which became and continues to be a superior musical organization.
When Bob moved to San Antonio in 1957 there were 2,157 students in Northside I.S.D. and thirty-six students in the Northside (later John Marshall) High School band. He started ninety beginners in the junior high and band classes in three elementary schools. In 1960 the teaching staff doubled when Leland Schultz, a superb musical educator, was hired as an assistant and junior high band director. As the district grew, Bob helped bring in some outstanding band directors to each new school.
Some of the first were: Leland Schultz, Charles Vanderhider*, Dan Schreiber*, David Doyle, Bill Chapman*, Gary Rosenblatt, Fred Oldencott, B.B. McKinney*, Pete Salinas, Ben Chasan, Charlie Kuentz, Evelyn Smith, James Miculka, Wallace Dierolf, Gus Cantu, Jim Cain, Gordon Bade*, and many others too numerous to mention. Judy Kuentz, Joan Blesser, Winston Turbeville, Virginia Lobitz, and Cynthia Vega contributed greatly in the early development of the elementary music programs. Bob received great support from superintendents Murray Boone, Ed Cody, Jack Jordan, and Ed Rawlinson. Later Leo Green was of great assistance supervising the elementary music, art, and string program. A tradition of excellence was established in local, state, and national concert band, orchestra, stage band, and marching band competitions, and there were 390 band members in John Marshall's bands when Lewis moved into full time administration in 1975. (* indicates deceased)
As Director of Fine Arts, Lewis established the elementary music program, the elementary art program, the string orchestra program, and has continued to expand the band, choir, orchestra, art, and theater arts programs. The Northside performing groups have continued the tradition of excellence, and when Lewis retired in 1990 there were more than 55,000 students involved in the fine arts programs. The district enrollment now exceeds 97,000 students and has a fine teaching staff led in an outstanding manner by Director of Fine Arts, James Miculka.
Bob is a member of Phi Beta Mu, Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Bandmasters Association, Texas Music Adjudicators Association, Texas State Teachers Association and is a past president of Texas Music Administrators Conference.
In 2001, the Northside District named a school Bob Lewis Elementary in appreciation for his contributions to the district.
Bob is truly thankful for the cherished associations with the many students, parents, patrons, fellow teachers and administrators, dear friends, and family that have so richly blessed his life.
Since his retirement, Bob has enjoyed his family, composing, directing the church choir, and when the pastor feels that the congregation needs to do penance, he has Bob play a trumpet solo.
From the lyrics of one of Bob's songs:
"There's a power that shapes our destiny.
It's the power that lives through all eternity.
Oh, what a great place this old world of ours would be
If people everywhere would learn to share the power of Love.
The brotherhood of all mankind must start with you and me".
Bob sincerely thanks James Miculka for nominating him for this great honor, and Ben Gollehon and the Hall of Fame Committee for their favorable consideration.