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Dr. Thomas Ford Lane - Class of 2006

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Dr. Ford Lane spent more than 20 years traveling the country as a vaudeville actor, singer, dancer, musician and storyteller, before becoming a well-educated man, learning to play almost every instrument — favoring saxophone and drums, and earning two bachelor’s degrees, two master’s degrees, a Ph.D., and an honorary doctorate. One newspaper article quoted him as having played everything from “plow points to hubcaps” for musical effects.

Dr. Lane grew up in Dublin, Texas. His parents fostered a love of the performing arts in their eight children; taking them to see every show and musical event that came to town, and providing singing and music lessons. Teachers were imported by train from other communities if not available locally. Ford’s first instrument was a cornet, which his father purchased with soap stamps. His first professional job was in 1917 playing cornet and bass drum in the Carsey Concert Band. Soon after, Ford moved to Waxahachie where he joined the well-known Lone Star Band, under the direction of James E. King. Waxahachie was to become Ford’s home base, from which he launched a lifelong career in the entertainment and education fields.
Over the course of 32 years, Dr. Lane taught band, choir and drama in numerous Texas towns, including Dublin, Waxahachie, Orange, Sherman and Hillsboro. (Two of his former saxophone students from Hillsboro went on to national prominence – Dr. Red Duke and Texas Lt. Governor Bob Bullock!) He composed the fight songs and alma maters for many schools, was active as a clinician and adjudicator and was involved with several summer band camps – Hillsboro, Cleveland, Sherman, Ganado and Humble.

Ever the showman, Lane was among the first to have his musicians use flashlights on darkened field to delineate their marching band formations. In addition to directing band, Ford served as dean of Southwestern Conservatory for four years and coordinator of music education in Sherman Public Schools for 11 years. He organized the fine arts department of Hill College, where he was named professor emeritus.

Without placing undue emphasis on competition, Ford approached music education as fundamental component of the overall development of a youngster and sought to integrate music with all other subject areas in the schools. Like his parents before him, he made the gift of music education possible by offering his six grandchildren their choice of any instrument they desired from the many he kept in his home studio. One of his grandsons, Roy Lane Darden, who plays guitar and drums, went on to become a Christian recording artist. His great-granddaughter Christi Darden Elrod teaches elementary music in the Houston Public Schools. Dr. Lane died Feb. 10, 1982. His only child Mary Jo Lane Darden, also a music teacher, was at his side.

“Play it like honey rolling out of a jug”

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