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Melvin Montgomery - Class of 1994

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Melvin B. "Mel" Montgomery was born January 3, 1925 in Richards, Texas. He attended elementary school in Montgomery, Texas, and junior and senior high school in Conroe, Texas. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Sam Houston State University, and did post graduate work at Texas Tech University and the University of Texas.

Mel began his musical training in Montgomery, Texas and played in their first band under director, Vernon Cleveland. She taught Mel privately trumpet, piano, and mandolin. Later he played baritone horn, trombone and percussion.

Mel graduated from Conroe High School in 1942 and completed one year of college at Sam Houston before being drafted into the Army in 1943. While in the service, he attended and graduated from the Army School of Music, played in the U.S. Army Field Band and Dance Band, and served in the ETO as a musician in the special services attached to the U.S. 7th Army.

Following his army duty, Mel returned to Sam Houston and completed his music degree in 1948. While at Sam Houston he served as director of the “Houstonians” dance band and during his senior year was employed as music director for the Texas Prison System.

Mel’s first teaching position was at Stephen F. Austin High School in Port Acres, Texas. During his four year tenure, his bands received three Sweepstakes awards. In 1952 he became Director of Bands at Snyder High School. During his sixteen year tenure, the Snyder band amassed an enviable record of contest honors. They won fifteen consecutive Sweepstakes at UIL and several honors at the Tri-State Music Festival. At the Buccaneer Festival, the Snyder band was four times selected as the Outstanding Concert Band in its class and seven times won the Grand Sweepstakes award. They were consistently ranked among the top five bands in their classification in state Honor Band competitions. In 1966, the Snyder band was chosen as the TMEA Honor Band in their classification.

Mel was also a pioneer in the stage band movement in Texas. His Snyder High School stage bands won national acclaim during the 1950’s and 1960’s and was ranked third among 225 participating schools in the National Stage Band Contest of 1966. His Snyder stage bands also won the highly competitive Brownwood Stage Band Festival twelve of fourteen years from 1954-1968.

In 1968, Mel was selected as Director of Bands at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches. He served for eighteen years as Director of Bands and Professor of Music. Under his leadership, the SFASU bands gained considerable recognition with both the marching and symphonic bands and became highly regarded throughout Texas and the United States. The SFA Symphonic Band was invited to perform four concerts for the Texas Music Educators Association and once for the College Band Directors National Association under Mel’s leadership.
During his teaching career, Mel was honored with a citation from the Texas state legislature and selected to membership in the First Chair of America, honoring the nations 100 best high school bands; he was the recipient of the A. Frank Martin award from Kappa Kappa Psi national band fraternity for his contributions to music education. In 1978, Mel was selected to membership in the prestigious American Bandmasters Association and in 1986 was given honorary membership in the Stephen F. Austin State University Band Director’s Hall of Fame. In 1993, Mel was selected by the Texas Bandmasters Association as the Bandmaster of the Year. He was inducted into the Texas Bandmasters Hall Of fame in 1994.

Mel is also a member of the TMEA, TBA, TMAA, Phi Beta Mu, Kappa Kappa Psi, Phi Mu Alpha, Tau Beta Sigma and Phi Delta Kappa. He holds listings in Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, International Who’s Who in Music, Personalities of America, Men of Achievement, Who’s Who in Percussion: USA, and the Directory of Distinguished Americans.

After retiring in 1986, Mel continued to teach on a part-time basis at SFA for several years. He still remains active as a clinician, adjudicator, and guest conductor. The Stephen F. Austin State University Board of Regents awarded him the title of Emeritus Director of Bands and Professor of Music in 1987.

Mel was married to Virginia Harrington in 1948. She is a retired school teacher. They have a son, Don Montgomery, and a daughter, Jill McClure. They have four grandchildren.

Mr. Montgomery passed away in November of 2016.

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