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Mike Marsh - Class of 2017

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Mike Marsh was born August 6, 1939, at Baylor Hospital, Dallas. He is the oldest of three children born to Harold and Elizabeth Marsh. Mike began band in October of his eighth grade year, and because his parents couldn't afford to pay for an instrument, his band teacher, Otis Harvey recommended he choose either baritone or French horn. Mike chose horn. Mr. Harvey taught him during his conference period and in January he was moved into the performing group. Mike played in the band at Greiner Jr. High School through his ninth grade year and then in the Sunset High School Band under the direction of Russ Williams in grades ten through eleven. Otis Harvey was Mike's director during his senior year. Mike played in both band and orchestra at Sunset. He studied privately with Geneva Redwine and Michael Glass. He was a member of the Dal Hi Symphony for three years and in 1957 was selected as a member of the TMEA All- State Orchestra.

After graduation Mike attended Arlington State College on a music scholarship. He was an electrical engineering major but took private horn lessons, played in the band and participated in student recitals. He was a member of ROTC and was ROTC band commander his senior year. His private teachers were Jack Mahan and Col. Earl Irons. While at Arlington he met and married the love of his life, Elaine Blomdahl, who also played French horn in the band. After discussions with Elaine and with Mr. Mahan, Mike changed his major. He had decided he wanted to become a band director and started taking music and education classes. Elaine did secretarial work to help support him through college and Mike worked at Sears in the paint department. Mr. Mahan suggested he transfer to Texas Wesleyan College in order to get education classes not offered at Arlington at the time. Mr. Mahan arranged for a tuition scholarship for playing in the band and orchestra and Mike graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree with certifications in English and math in 1963.

Commissioned a second lieutenant in field artillery upon graduation from college, he attended the basic officer's course at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. Upon completion, he was assigned as fire direction officer for Battery B, 6th Battalion, 27th Artillery stationed at Ft. Chaffee, Arkansas, and later at Ft. Bliss Texas. After leaving active duty in 1965, Mike spent twenty-two years in the Army Reserve. He completed the field artillery officer's advanced course at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, the Quartermaster (Petroleum) branch qualification course at Ft. Lee, Virginia and attended Command and General Staff College. His reserve assignments included 383rd Quartermaster Battalion Headquarters Company Commander, Field Artillery Surveying instructor for the Army, National Guard and Marine Corps Reserve, and adjutant for an Army Reserve special forces company. Mike was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1984 and was assigned as a mobilization designee to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Washington D.C. from 1979 until he transferred to the retired reserves in 1987.

After leaving active duty military service, Mike contracted to teach English at Ysleta High School in El Paso. Ysleta had an all-girl drum corps and the drum corps instructor resigned two weeks before school started when her husband was transferred. Mike had already been hired as an English teacher and was asked by the district instrumental supervisor, Louise Little, if he would teach drum corps in addition to three English classes. Although he had never had a percussion class, he accepted the position. He survived the year with the help of a Haskell Harr book, a practice pad, and a pair of sticks. For the next three years he attended the summer percussion camp at Arlington and sat in and played along with the campers. After marching season, drum corps members worked on percussion ensembles and solos, and Mike started a marimba band to give students additional incentive to learn mallet instruments.

In 1967 Ysleta band director John Faraone talked Mike into directing the second band during his conference period. Then in 1968-69 Mike taught band at Thomas Manor Elementary School, along with the drum corps and English classes at Ysleta High School. The band at Thomas Manor met for class on the stage in a combination gym, cafeteria and auditorium. There was no budget and no inventory. All music and supplies had to be paid for out of the five dollar fee students paid to be in band. The only insulation between the cafeteria noises and bouncing basketballs was the stage curtain. Mike's Thomas Manor students combined with Ismael Tercero's Cedar Grove and Ascarate students entered as a composite band in the El Paso ISD contest in 1969 with Mike conducting. They had one rehearsal together before the contest and were elated with a second division rating. That year the Ysleta Drum Corps, sponsored by the El Paso Lions Club, travelled to Dallas and won first place in the Lions Club International Convention Parade.

In the fall of 1969, Mike was named the director of the Clint High School Band where he remained for ten years. Students started band in the fourth grade at Clint and the high school marching band included fifth grade students ( marching 6-5). Clint went to its first UIL concert contest in 1974 and received the only second division rating at a UIL concert contest during Mike's career. The first UIL marching contest was in 1975 and the Clint band received sweepstakes awards each year after. In 1977 Mike talked his superintendent into hiring an assistant by agreeing to team teach K-4 music classes. Mike met Jesse Lotspeich when they played together in the El Paso Symphony Orchestra. Jesse was an outstanding musician and teacher and with his assistance the band won state solo and ensemble sweepstakes awards in 1977 and 1978. In 1975 the band had placed fourth in the TMEA Class 1A Honor Band competition and in 1977 was selected as the Class 1A Honor Band. Four members of the Clint band were selected as members of the TMEA All-State Band that year. Also that year, as it did every year, the band traveled 286 miles to Odessa for all UIL events, marching, concert and solos. The marching contest that year had to be postponed due to a heavy snow storm, but the decision to postpone was made after the band was already on the road in a chartered bus (pre-cell phones). The band was snowed in and had to spend two nights in an Odessa motel before the roads were safe enough to return home. The next week the band returned to Odessa for the contest and spent another night in the motel for what the superintendent said was a very expensive trophy.

In the spring after the band's honor band performance at TMEA, Clint ISD was audited by the Texas Education Agency which noted that Mike was not certified in music. The superintendent of schools called him in and told him that on paper they would have to show him as the assistant since he was not certified. He attended summer classes at Sul Ross State University to earn certification, but by fall TEA had ruled that since Mike had been teaching for fourteen years he would be grandfathered in.

In August of 1979, Mike received a call from his good friend Ralph Zamarippa telling
him that a position in Fort Stockton was open, that he had been hired as the assistant and suggested that Mike apply for the head job. Mike was hired as Director of Instrumental Music for Fort Stockton ISD where he spent the next three years. Then in 1982 he moved to Eldorado, Texas, where he taught for the next thirteen years. Eldorado needed rebuilding after making a fourth division in concert the previous year. Mike taught by himself until 1987, when he talked the superintendent into hiring a band assistant by agreeing to teach an eighth grade math class. He was fortunate to hire an outstanding young director, Manuel San Luis. When Manuel left in 1990, Robin Konop filled in for a year and then Mike hired a former student from Clint, Gina Muela, who stayed until his retirement and then replaced him as head director. Eldorado was a TMEA honor band finalist in 1987 and 1991 and won the UIL Solo and Ensemble Sweepstakes trophy in 1992. Eldorado received first divisions in concert for thirteen consecutive years and advanced to the state marching contest three times.

In 1995 Mike “retired” and moved to Oklahoma to teach high school band at Heavener High School. The Heavener band won the first sweepstakes trophy in the history of the school in1996. The next year the Marsh family moved back to Texas, the Oklahoma state income tax being applied to his Texas teachers retirement being a big incentive.

While on a trip interviewing in Texas, Mike received a call from his long time friend Elmer Schenk offering Mike the middle school position at Howe Middle School. Mike stayed atHowe for the next eighteen years, working with Elmer, Chris Burk, Angie Liss, and Julie Cook. During that time Howe Middle School was a five-time TMEA Honor Band finalist, a ten-time OPS state finalist, and an OPS winner in 1999. Mike was named Howe Middle School Teacher of the Year in 2010.

Mike was a founding charter member and the first president of ATSSB and served a totalof nine years as TMEA Region Band Chairman and two years as TMEA Region Chairman. He has taught French horn at UT Austin, Sul Ross State University and Angelo State University band camps.

Mike is thankful to have been assisted by outstanding teachers and clinicians throughout his career. He is grateful for many talented students who were a part of his bands. He is most thankful for the love of his wife Elaine who has encouraged and supported him through fifty-five years of marriage and for his daughter Michelle, her husband Wade Frost and grandchildren Aaron, Trevor, and Paige. He is also grateful that God has blessed him by allowing him to keep teaching band and working with young people.

Mike and Elaine Marsh live outside of Sherman where Mike keeps a busy schedule teaching private lessons at area schools, teaching band classes at Grayson Christian School, teaching at summer band camps and judging.

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