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Randall Hunsaker - Class of 2019

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The phrase, “It's a funny thing about life. If you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it,” was engraved on a plaque given to Randy by the late V.O. and Joyce Ann Lasley, early in Randy’s years in Stratford, Texas. Randy has lived and taught by these words all of his life.
In 1954, Randall Hunsaker was born to P. I. and Norma Hunsaker in Borger, Texas, a panhandle town fifty miles northeast of Amarillo. Randy, his older brother, and sister lived with their parents in a small Phillips Petroleum Company oil field camp called Texroy, located between Borger and Pampa. Randy attended Spring Creek, a small country school, through the second grade. In 1962, two life-changing events took place. First, Randy was diagnosed with Legg-Perthes, a childhood hip disorder that kept him in a brace for three years and ruled out contact sports of any kind for the rest of his life. Second, a pipeline explosion and fire took out half of the Texroy camp, forcing the Hunsaker family to move to Borger, where Randy started third grade at Crockett Elementary School.
Randy and his siblings were reared in a fairly musical home. His dad played cornet by ear quite well on his Cleveland cornet purchased in 1939 for $70. Although he could not read music, he continued to enjoy his cornet, playing duets with Randy until he was seventy-five years old. Randy's mother played the piano, mostly hymns, and loved to sing. Randy's sister, Karen, loves to sing and was president of the Borger High School Choir and an alternate to the TMEA All-State Choir. Karen became a gifted elementary music teacher who composed and wrote her own musicals. His brother Jerry was captain of the Borger football team and enjoyed playing guitar.
It was a natural thing for Randy to pick up his dad's cornet and join the Crockett Elementary fifth grade band under the direction of Meryl Wamhoff. The late Clark Hutchinson was Randy's director at Stephen F. Austin Junior High. Mr. Hutchinson left after being drafted in the spring of 1968. Hunter Worthington, who later became Randy's brother-in-law, was his director in the fall of 1968, for one semester. At the end of that semester, Mr. Worthington joined the Air Force, and Gary B. Laramore became the new director for the remainder of Randy's ninth-grade year. While in junior high, Randy performed solos and ensembles, earning Division Is. He also made the All-Region Band his ninth-grade year. Stephen F. Austin Junior High competed at UIL Marching Contest, earning First Divisions all three years.
Randy's “claim to fame” is that from his seventh-grade year throughout his career, he was either a member of or a director of a First Division marching band.
Randy's high school director at Borger was Robert R. Gans, Hall of Fame member. Mr. Gans was a great motivator, musician, and teacher who significantly influenced Randy during high school and throughout his career. Mr. Gans had two signs hanging in the band hall. The first was, “To be average is to be the best of the worst and the worst of the best.” The other was, “If you are on time, you are late!” Both were imprinted on Randy's mind and he often quoted them to his students.
Under Mr. Gans's guidance, Randy made the All-Region Band all three years of high school. He made the Texas All-State Band his junior and senior years. At that time, there was only one Texas All-State Band for all classifications. The All-State concerts were held in Houston in 1971 and Fort Worth in 1972. Randy was president of the Borger High School Band his senior year.
Besides Mr. Gans, Randy was greatly influenced by others while attending high school. The late Craig Zink, John Hollifield, and the late Chuck Higdon were junior high directors and assistants to Mr. Gans. Band directors from other school districts motivated Randy as well. Hall of Fame member Sam Watson taught at the high school in Phillips, a neighboring town of Borger. Mr. Watson judged Randy's junior high bands in later years.
Hall of Fame member Norvil Howell was Director of Bands in Clovis, New Mexico. Each of these men were legendary musicians and mentors who had outstanding bands.
After high school, Randy pursued a career in music at West Texas State University (now known as West Texas A&M University) in Canyon, Texas. Randy performed four years in the marching band and the top symphonic band under the baton of Hall of Fame member Dr. Gary Garner. Dr. Garner was an excellent musician, director, and an influence and role model for Randy's career and life. Randy received trumpet instruction and played in the brass choir under the direction of Dave Ritter, who influenced him as well. Randy participated in the West Texas State University Band and Brass Choir performances at San Antonio for TMEA and band performances at CBDNA in Berkeley, California. Randy was named Outstanding Student Teacher of the music department his senior year. He received a Bachelor of Music Education degree in 1976.
After college graduation, Randy began his teaching career at Fort Stockton as assistant band director to the late Don Hanna, a Hall of Fame member. Randy's life was shaped in a definite, positive direction by Mr. Hanna's exemplary guidance. Mr. Hanna introduced Randy to men of that era who were the epitome of excellent musicianship. Dan Gibbs, G.T. Gilligan, Randy Storie, J.R. McEntyre, Bill Dean, Wes May, Bill Woods, Phil Anthony, Dub Crain, Tommy Fry, and Charles Trayler were just a few of these fine directors. Randy learned the responsibilities, the mastery and tools of proficiency that were required to be a committed band director. Mr. Hanna was instrumental in Randy's learning curve that later brought success for him and the students that he directed.

During the summer of 1979, Randy received a call from Gary Laramore, Randy's former director, to come for an interview at Stratford ISD. Randy accepted the position of Director of Bands, after being interviewed by the late Elwyn Bass, Superintendent. The expectations that had been set in the years prior to Randy's arrival were extremely high. He followed Mr. Laramore, who earned four Sweepstakes trophies; Mr. Joe Mack Hill and Mr. Jeff Doughton, who earned the first UIL marching trophy in 1971–1972; and Mr. Noel Maxwell, who earned the first-known UIL Sweepstakes trophy with the 1967–1968 band.
Although he did not know it at the time, Stratford would become Randy’s new home town, and he would spend the remainder of his teaching career there.
Randy's first year in Stratford was 1979. His band was one of seventeen Class A bands in the state to earn the Sweepstakes trophy. Stratford marching bands under Randy's direction had a very successful run of twenty-eight consecutive First Divisions at UIL Region I Marching Contest between 1979 and 2007.
The trophy earned in the fall of 2006, the year Randy retired, was the thirty-sixth consecutive Division I trophy earned at UIL Region Marching Contest in the band's history. The Stratford High School Band went on to have a record of thirty-seven total consecutive First Divisions in UIL marching, beginning with Jeff Doughton in 1971 and ending with Eldric Shanks the Fall of 2007.
During Randy's twenty-eight years, from 1979 to 2007, twenty-two Sweepstakes trophies were earned. The twenty-third Sweepstakes trophy was earned when he was asked to come back and teach the spring of 2008, his final year of teaching in Stratford.
During the years of 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, and 2005, Randy's marching bands represented Region I at the UIL Area Marching Contest. The 1997 band was unable to attend because of a blizzard. In the years prior to 1991, they were often one of the two bands picked to represent Region I at Area but Stratford was unable to participate beyond the region level because of local board policy.
The Stratford High School Band under Randy's direction was traditionally an 8-to-5 precision marching band. During his twenty-eight-year tenure, Stratford became well known for their unique style of precision drills, featuring a high knee lift, using Moffit spacing, and for performing difficult music. Randy always chose the music and charted his own drill and he would often chart a 6-to-5 line drill for a closer. Always having many varsity football players in band, both a Friday-night show and a contest show would sometimes have to be charted. Randy was always supportive of Stratford athletics, spent time with his coaching friends, and was always proud of the many varsity football players and other athletes he had in band.
Randy was proud of his competitive students. Some excelled at solo and ensemble contest, going on to earn First Division medals at the Texas State Solo and Ensemble Contest (TSSEC). Many of them earned chairs in the Region I All-Region Band and Area competitions. Three of his Stratford High School Band students advanced and became distinguished members of the Association of Texas Small School Bands (ATSSB) All-State Band. Randy's sons were among these young people.
Randy's bands earned many State honors. The 1981 band was fourth in State in the Class 2A TMEA Honor Band competition. The 1983 band advanced to second in State in the Class 2A TMEA Honor Band competition. In 1991, the band was an Area finalist in the 2A TMEA Honor Band competition and the 1999 band placed eleventh in State.
The 2001 band became State winners in two out of three concert categories and second in State in the third category in the ATSSB Class A Outstanding Performance Series competition. The 2003 band competed in the UIL State Marching Contest in San Antonio and finished sixth in State. These achievements were momentous experiences for the band, directors, and the town.
In 1983, the band earned Outstanding Band at the Canon City Jaycees Music and Blossom Festival parade competition and missed winning the whole field competition by 0.09 percent of a point. Also in 1983, Stratford, a Class A band, competing against schools that were Class A through 4A, won the Outstanding Marching Band trophy at the Amarillo Tri-State Fair Parade. The band earned the Outstanding 2A Band at the Greater Southwest Music Festival in Amarillo in 1990. In the years of 1987, 1991 and 1998, Stratford won First Divisions at the Cavalcade of Music Festival in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and won the Outstanding 2A Band award two of those years, in 1991 and 1998.
A special honor was given to Randy in May of 1999. Toward the conclusion of his twentieth spring concert, Randy was surprised by Assistant Director Jeff Witcher, who had organized a special event named Project Vingt. Vingt is French for “twenty.” The celebration included a reception and was attended by twenty years of past band members, students, parents, past directors, administrators, and family. The unforgettable event included gifts given to Randy to commemorate the occasion.
In 2001, Randy and the bands moved into a new 8,000-square-foot band hall that replaced the band hall built in 1954. The beautiful facility became the pride of the band, the directors, and the town.
Randy appreciates the remarkable, talented junior high school directors who were his assistants and confidants through the years. He is indebted to them. Their friendships with Randy are still strong. These directors are John Strother, David McEntyre, Dr. Jim Taliaferro, Betty Ingham, Bob Burr, Jeff Witcher, Josh Essary, Eldric Shanks, and Katherine Willey Nusz. Their dedication and commitment to Randy, the band students, school, and community was unparalleled.
Randy appreciates the fine men who conducted clinics for him. They were Don Hanna, Dr. Gary Garner, Dan Gibbs, Dr. Charles Trayler, and Cody Meyers. Dr. Charles Trayler was always available in the latter years and always willing to help. Randy is also grateful to his many contest judges for their musical expertise, insight, and encouragement.
Through the years there were mentors, educators, and friends who had definite significance in Randy's life as a band director. They were Sam Brite, Steve Haynes, Gary Laramore, Marihoward Englebrecht, Kenny Palmer, Travis Melton, Dr. Dusty Palmer, Clint Seward, the late Jack Gilley, and the late Delvin Howard. Others included Charles Faulkner, Dr. Gary Garner, Hall of Fame member Bill Woods, Joe Mack Hill, Dale and Betty Roller, Edwin Harris, the late Robert R. Gans, the late Don Hanna, the late Gerald McDonald, the late Gerald Smith, the late Mr. Jeff Doughton, and the late Steve Baird. He is very proud to have been associated with these fine colleagues and friends.
A mandatory second career for Randy was being a “short-order cook” at the basketball concession stand that specialized in greasy burgers. The burgers, coined the “World Famous Band Burger” were popular in the community and thousands of patties were served over the years. From the fall of 1979 until the fall of 2007, there were 685 total concession stand openings with a total of over 256,000 meat patties cooked, 12 at a time. Randy always joked that upon his grave marker, “Billions and Billions Served” would be carved.
Randy believed that the town's support was 90 percent of the band's success. He was a part of the community, outside of being a band director. Randy worked summer jobs that included driving tractors and bobtails and working for the school as a summer custodian. Several summers he worked at Stratford Grain Company, unloading grain trucks. During his later years of teaching, he drove a semitruck during summer wheat and fall corn harvests for the late Mr. Joe Reinart, Randy's school board president. For twenty-eight years, Randy drove a school bus route morning and evening. He claims that he drove a bus around the world twenty-five times, and at least two times on a rough dirt road!
After his first year in Fort Stockton, in 1977, Randy married the love of his life and his high school sweetheart, Gail Ann Clough. Besides being a mother and wife, she is a church organist and pianist. She was often the accompanist for solos and ensembles. Gay's musical talent was a great asset to Randy's bands. In the latter years, when Randy taught without an assistant, she became his assistant. Always at his side ready to help, she is still a constant in his life and his confidant.
Gay and Randy have three sons. During Randy's third year in Fort Stockton, Daniel was born in 1979. After the move to Stratford, David was born in 1981 and Wesley was born in 1983. Often asked why he stayed in the small “Tip-Top Town of the Panhandle,” Randy would reply that one of his priorities as an educator was to be able to spend time with his family. The other priority was that his sons would be able to participate and excel in academics, sports, agriculture, band, and anything else they wanted to do. They were successful and actively involved in all four areas. Some of their favorite memories of band revolve around the exceptional music that they learned and performed, with their dad as director.
During several memorable band concerts, Randy and his sons performed timeless selections together. They have performed brass duets for several weddings. With great pride, the four have played “Taps” and “Echo Taps” for patriotic programs and Veteran's Day and Memorial Day services. Daniel is a cotton farmer who farms over 1,100 acres. David is a registered nurse and real-estate agent. Wesley is a computer video engineer. All three are exceptional outdoor chefs who have participated in and won barbeque competitions. They are fine husbands and great fathers who follow their father's exemplary lead. They believe their Dad is “who he is” because he was a good parent to them. Randy has three beautiful daughters-in-law, Amanda, Angie, and Whitney; and six wonderful grandchildren, Jordan, Eryn, Clara, Ethan, Taylor, and Kaden. These twelve are Randy's most treasured trophies.
Randy's Christian faith is very important to him. He is a long-time member of the United Methodist Church and he enjoys singing in the church choir in Cisco. He has directed Christmas cantatas and small ensembles and played solos for church services. For fifteen years, Randy sang bass for a southern gospel quartet named 4Given. Their repertoire included music written by southern gospel legend Bill Gaither. One highlight for the quartet was to perform with Mr. Gaither during one of his concerts in Amarillo. The four men recorded five CDs in different studios, including two in Hendersonville, Tennessee.
Randy takes pride in being an amateur mechanic. Forty-two years ago, he purchased a 1954 Chevrolet pickup for $325 that he still owns and drives. He enjoys working on the pickup and listening to his grandchildren laugh as they go for rides and marveling as they learn to drive it. He keeps his acreage shredded and looking great with a 1951 model Ford 8N tractor that he also enjoys working on. Living amongst the oak, cedar, and mesquite in the beautiful hills outside Cisco, he hunts dove in its season and tends a garden, grape arbor, and pecan and fruit trees. For his grandchildren, there is a tree-house and a campsite with a cozy fire pit where the entire family can camp and sit around and be together.
An appropriate quote is, “What a teacher is, is more important than what he teaches.” With thousands of students, Randy shared his talents, knowledge, successes, and disappointments. He initiated pride, confidence, honesty, teamwork, good character, and self-worth. Randy never put himself before others and he always took up for the “little guy.” His students learned more than how to read and play notes on a page. They learned that a positive attitude created an environment for learning. Randy challenged his students by choosing music for them to perform that was always above the required list. Musically, the Stratford High School Band played exceptional literature each year, upholding a tradition of excellence. These fine young people were winners who performed in their sections, in the stands, and on the field.

He tried to teach them to be leaders and to lead by example. His expectations were extremely high. Randy encouraged the young people to be ladies and gentlemen as they represented themselves and their school. He took more pride in the way his students acted in a restaurant than how they performed on the stage.
The group always received many compliments on their behavior and their character. His former students represent every possible walk of life, including four band directors. Nothing pleased him more than to watch them succeed. To all the students whom he was privileged to teach, he is grateful. They were his reason and his purpose for the career he chose as a Texas band director. Randy deeply cared about each student and they knew that he did. These students include Randy's three sons, of whom he is exceedingly proud.
Professionally, Randy has served as an adjudicator, judging at UIL Marching, Concert and Sight-reading and Solo and Ensemble Contests in Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, from 1984 until the present. Randy was proud to serve ATSSB on the State Board of Directors as the Class A and 2A representative from 2002 to 2006. He was also All-Region Band organizer several years in Region I.
In February of 2004, Randy was honored to become a member of Phi Beta Mu. He was sponsored by Dr. Charles Trayler and Cody Meyers. For many years Randy has been honored and proud to serve on the State Board of Phi Beta Mu as ATSSB Area West representative. He is also a member of TMEA, TBA, and Kappa Kappa Psi.
Randy is humbled to be inducted into the Phi Beta Mu Texas Bandmasters Hall of Fame with so many prestigious band directors. He extends his heartfelt gratitude to the men who nominated him, Mr. Bill Woods and Dr. Charles Trayler. He expresses his appreciation to the Hall of Fame Committee for selecting him for this distinguished honor.
Randy is overwhelmed by the love, encouragement, and support of his wife, sons, daughters-in-law, grandchildren, and all of his family. They have loved, supported, and encouraged him always, attending the concerts and contests, as well as cherishing the music performed through the years. They have consistently been his biggest fans and his love and affection to them is foremost in his heart. Randy thanks his Heavenly Father for His blessings and guidance through the years. With Him, everything has been and is possible.

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