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George W. Walters - Class of 1994

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George W. Walters was born December 31, 1925 in Durant, Oklahoma. He received his early instrumental music training through one of the “great depression” programs, the Works Progress Administration, better known as the WPA. The public schools had no instrumental music program at this time. The band program in the public schools was inaugurated in 1938 when George was in the eighth grade. The program was progressing but the advent of World War II curtailed it, especially in December, 1941. The band director was drafted and George at the ripe old age of 16 and a junior in high school became the director for one semester. A new director was hired for the fall, and George lost his first job. He graduated from high school in 1943.

George served in the U. S. Army from 1943-1946. After being discharged from the service in 1946, he attended Southeastern Oklahoma University majoring in vocal and instrumental music. He graduated in 1949 with honors and a B.A. in music. He received his Master of Music degree from the University of North Texas in 1953. In 1948-49, George taught junior high band in the Durant public schools on a part time basis while a senior in college. This was the first junior high band for Durant, and they received First Division ratings at district and state contests.

George was band and vocal director at Atoka, Oklahoma in 1949-50. He started with a band of 17 people (12 winds and 5 percussion) and took a band of 60 members to contest in April, 1950, and received a first division. In 1950, he returned to the Durant schools when the junior high position was made full time. He taught both instrumental and vocal music, and during this time his bands were consistent first division winners and the vocal groups fared as well. The Durant High School bands under the direction of Roy J. Weger (Floyd Weger’s brother who is also a 1994 inductee) were also nationally prominent during this period.

In 1953, George went to Lawton, Oklahoma to be the junior high band director, but instead ended up that year as high school and junior high choir director as well as assisting James Matthews (also a 1994 inductee) with the bands. Mr. Matthews returned the favor and assisted George with the choirs. During the two weeks preceding Christmas 1953, they gave a total of 56 public performances with both groups. George comments, “We were both insane!” In 1954-55, George became just the junior high band director. In 1955-57, George assumed the directorship of the Lawton High School band. The band received First Division ratings in all contests, and was twice voted the Outstanding Band at the Bi-State Band Festival in Ft. Smith, Arkansas.

In 1957, James Matthews called George and persuaded him to Move to Texas, take the LaMarque High School Band and work on a Ph.D. at the University of Houston. George had planned to teach at LaMarque only one year. The band had received a IV in sight-reading, and a V in concert the previous Year. George took the band to contest and they received a first division in concert and sight-reading. The superintendent was so pleased that he made George an offer he could not refuse. From 1957 to 1972, the LaMarque High School Band received straight first division concert ratings in region UIL contests. One lone second division came in sight-reading when a fight broke out in the trumpet section during contest.

The LaMarque band was voted outstanding AAA (now AAAA) Band at the Buccaneer Festival in 1961 and 1962. They were also voted outstanding AAAA (now AAAAA) Band in 1965 and 1966. They were the TMEA AAA Honor Band in 1964 and the TMEA AAAA Honor Band in 1967.

From 1972-1980, George decided to teach 6th and 7th grade bands which he admits was probably the most rewarding period of his career. He retired from public school teaching in 1980, but has maintained an interest through private teaching, adjudication, doing clinics and attending musical events.

George is a member of the TBA, ASBDA, Kappa Kappa Psi, Phi Mu Alpha, and Phi Beta Mu. George still resides in LaMarque, Texas. He has one daughter, Dr. Gloria Walters, a Methodist minister and soon to be faculty member of the Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.

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