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Roy E. Norton - Class of 1999

Roy Edward Norton was born in San Antonio, Texas, on June 16, 1926. He attended James Bonham Elementary School and Page Junior High School where he began his lifelong study of the clarinet. His first private lessons were taught by Irving Dreibrodt, who was a senior at Brackenridge High School. Roy went on to Brackenridge High School where he was an honor student and a member of Otto Zoeller’s band and orchestra and the private student of Jerome Zoeller.

Roy graduated from Brackenridge High School in 1943 and entered Baylor University. Due to World War II, there was no clarinet teacher at Baylor and Roy hitchhiked back to San Antonio to take lessons from Jerome.

Arrangements were made for Roy to transfer to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. While there, he played in the Wildcat Band directed by Glenn Cliff Bainum and studied clarinet with Dominic Di Caprio. He received the Bachelor of Music degree in 1947 and the Master’s degree in music in 1948.

Roy’s career as a band director began as assistant director and woodwind instructor at South Dakota State College in Brookings, South Dakota. Roy often said that Chicago was cold in the winter, but Brookings was like the North Pole. In August of 1949, after enough snow and cold weather, he moved to a warmer climate and became assistant band director and woodwind instructor in Brownsville, Texas, working with James R. Murphy.

Except for a two year stint in the United States Army, the next ten years were spent in Brownsville. Jim Murphy said he always felt safe during those two years knowing that Roy was guarding the country with his clarinet. In 1955, at a football game in Alamo Stadium, Roy met his future wife, Pat. They were married on August 4, 1956, in the Harlandale Methodist Church in San Antonio.

When Roy became primary director of the Brownsville Golden Eagle Band in 1957, the excellence of that program continued. After one year, Roy decided that he would not play the political games necessary to hold that position. In 1958, he became the band director at Schertz-Cibolo High School where he had the last Sweepstakes band for twenty-seven years.

In August of 1959, Roy became the band director at Katy High School. After four successful years, he decided that he really wanted to become the assistant director at William Adams High School in Alice. Roy spent four very happy years as Bryce Taylor’s assistant in Alice. During that time, Roy was the principal clarinet and soloist with the Corpus Christi Symphony and the Corpus Christi Municipal Band conducted by Marion Busby.

In 1967, Roy became a member of the faculty of Texas Lutheran College He was hired as Assistant Professor of Music. During his tenure a Texas Lutheran he served as woodwind instructor, band director, and director of summer band camps, taught music history and literature, methods classes, supervised student teachers and was mentor and friend to numerous students. He retired at age 62 to enjoy his grandchildren and his swimming pool.

Roy became a member of Phi Beta Mu in 1955. He often recalled the time when all by himself he tried out the clarinets for the All-State Band He was the organizer for the All-State Band for three years. After he had to have dentures, he taught himself to play the clarinet again. During a clinic at Texas Lutheran, William Revelli said that no one with false teeth could play the clarinet, but Roy proved him wrong.

Roy’s last public performance on clarinet was in the Phi Beta Mu Reading Band at the age of 69. He passed away on January 29, 1998. His survivors include his loving wife Pat, daughter and son-in-law Sandy and George Ranft of Seguin; daughter and son-in-law Shary and Victor Gonzales of Austin; son and daughter-in-law Patrick Edward (Skip) and Brenda Norton of Lewisville, and daughter Carol Jaroszewski of Seguin. Six grandchildren: Dale and Katie Ranft, Nick Jaroszewski, Melissa and Danielle Norton and Matthew Gonzales also survive. Roy’s legacy to his family and all his former students is his constant striving for excellence and perfection.

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