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Randall Thomas Bartlett - Class of 2020

Randall Thomas Bartlett was born January 23, 1947, in Corpus Christi, Texas, the second of three sons born to Allen W. and Dortha L. Bartlett. Randy’s parents both went to school in Gunter, Texas. His dad was gifted in sports, playing on the high school baseball and football teams. He received a contract as a pitcher for a farm team with the Kansas City Athletics baseball team but eventually turned it down - baseball did not pay the bills in those days. His dad became a car salesman in Corpus Christi and later owned a grocery store in Aransas Pass where Randy started school. Throughout the years, his dad owned a concrete mixing plant in Bowie and Bonham, Texas. After moving to Sherman, Texas, he owned his own company – Bartlett Backhoe Service. After graduating first in her class at Gunter High School, Randy’s mom became a housewife and raised three boys! In the mid-1950s, the family moved to north Texas where Randy continued his public school education in Bowie, Bonham, and Sherman.

Randy was first introduced to music in the Aransas Pass elementary school system where he was named Drum Major of the First and Second Grade Rhythm Band – complete with uniform and baton! This likely planted the seed for a future profession. When Randy moved to Sherman, he was inspired to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Richard, a tuba player in the Sherman High School band. Randy joined band in 1958 as a sixth grader, starting on clarinet and moving to bass clarinet by the end of his beginner year. Randy’s younger brother Larry followed in the footsteps of his older brothers playing tenor saxophone in the Sherman band program. Randy’s real inspiration to pursue a music career came from Eldon Sonnenberg, Sherman High School band director. Although Randy was not able to take private lessons, he spent many hours practicing and learning from Mr. Sonnenberg. During his high school career, Randy made the All-Region bands all four years and became the first student from Sherman High School to make the Texas All-State Band, earning second chair bass clarinet his junior and senior years. He also played tenor saxophone in the SHS jazz band. He served as Drum Major of the Sherman High School Band his junior and senior years.

Randy entered North Texas State University (now University of North Texas) in the fall of 1965 majoring in music education. He continued to play Bass Clarinet in the Symphonic Band at North Texas but moved to clarinet as his major instrument of study. The transition to clarinet was difficult at first, but Randy was fortunate to study with Richard Shanley, a master at teaching the fundamentals of proper clarinet technique, and Mr. Shanley’s method of teaching remained with Randy throughout his career. While at North Texas, Randy’s biggest influence came from the Director of Bands, Maurice McAdow. Mr. McAdow had the ability to inspire his students to bring the emotion of music to life which influenced Randy’s teaching philosophy throughout his career.

Randy began teaching private clarinet lessons while he was a student at North Texas and continued teaching privately during the first several years of his teaching career and while in the Air Force in Wichita Falls and Anchorage.

The next highlight at North Texas would occur during his senior year when he met the love of his life, Bonnie Sue Garey. They were married on August 8, 1969, and together began their journey. At the end of his senior year, Randy had not yet completed his student teaching so he would either be required to go back to North Texas for another semester or take a teaching position on an emergency teaching certificate. Mr. McAdow helped set up interviews with two small north Texas school districts that wanted to begin a band program. In the fall of 1969, Randy started the band programs in Princeton ISD and Allen ISD, working half-days in each district. He became the full-time band director in Allen ISD in 1970. Given the fact that the Allen High School Escadrille is now considered the largest high school band in the United States, Randy is gratified to think he had a tiny part in building that outstanding and unique program at its beginning. During the 1970-71 school year, Randy was given the go-ahead to design the district’s first-ever band uniforms, and plans were underway to build the first Allen High School band hall. However, before he could see those plans completed, Randy received a draft notice that spring and chose to audition for one of the U.S. Air Force field bands. He was accepted and after completing basic training, was stationed at Sheppard AFB Air Training Command Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, and then at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, Alaska. He proudly served in the U.S. Air Force for four years.

In 1975, Lloyd Cook, Director of Fine Arts in Birdville ISD, hired Randy as an assistant to Jim Van Zandt, Band Director at Richland High School. The year after, Henry Schraub became the Director of Fine Arts for the district. Randy often expresses his gratitude for the influence, mentoring, and friendship these three outstanding music educators have shown him throughout his career.

In 1978, he became the Director of Bands at South Grand Prairie High School where he taught for two years. Although most head directors prefer to hire their associate directors, Al Corley was already in place as the assistant at SGPHS, his first year out of Baylor. Al became a good friend and helped the bands at South Grand Prairie to improve dramatically during their two years together in Grand Prairie.

When Lloyd Cook left Birdville ISD in 1977, he went to Garland ISD as Director of Fine Arts. In 1980, he asked Randy to interview for the Director of Bands position at South Garland High School. Randy assumed that role where he would remain for the next nineteen years. A highlight of his years at South Garland was seeing his daughters excel in the SG band program. Karen was an outstanding oboe player and was on the high school gymnastics team (with no formal training in gymnastics). Jill was a great clarinetist, making the All-State Band her senior year, and she served as drum major for two years. She was also a member of the award-winning SGHS a cappella choir and show choir. While there are many memories and achievements Randy is proud of while at South Garland, the most significant ones are the individual accomplishments of students who were a part of the Colonel Band, including all those who earned positions in the All-Region and All-State organizations during those nineteen years. Many of those students went on to pursue music careers both professionally and in music education. Knowing the importance of music education in shaping the leaders of tomorrow, it is extremely rewarding to continue to follow the career paths of so many former students, many of whom still express today their appreciation for the level and quality of music they were exposed to and were privileged to perform while in the Colonel Bands. During Randy’s tenure, the South Garland bands earned numerous sweepstakes awards and were selected as outstanding band several times at festivals in Louisiana, Colorado, Tennessee, Washington D.C., Florida, and Texas.
Knowing that the success of a band program, or any music program, is the result of the efforts of a strong, talented and cohesive team, Randy believes that he was blessed throughout his career with great associates. In addition to the previously mentioned Al Corley at South Grand Prairie, Randy’s list of former associate directors reads as a “Who’s Who” of incredibly talented and successful individuals: Dr. Rick Bogard, currently Professor of Trumpet Studies at The University of Texas at Arlington; George Jones, retired Director of Fine Arts, Garland ISD; Mark Chandler, Director of Fine Arts, Hurst Euless Bedford ISD; Jeff Barge, retired band director, Arlington ISD; Kelley Fletcher, retired band director and leader of her own dance band; Todd Toney, retired Director of Bands at North Garland High School and currently a member of the Dallas Winds staff and board of directors; Brian Britt, Director of the University of Oklahoma “Pride” Marching Band; Glenn Lambert, Director of Fine Arts in Wylie ISD; and Eloisa Muzquiz, Assistant Principal in Richardson ISD.

During his time at South Garland, Randy served as a clinician and adjudicator in Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. He also enjoyed working as an instructor and clinician at summer band camps at East Texas State University and Stephen F. Austin University. He served as Region III Band Chair for several years and as TMEA Region III President for ten years.

In 1999, Randy left the classroom when he was appointed Director of Fine Arts in Round Rock ISD. In 2001, he was appointed Director of Fine Arts for the Hurst Euless Bedford ISD in Bedford, Texas, a position he held for five years. He has served on the UIL Technical Advisory Committee in Austin and served as President of the Texas Music Administrator’s Conference.

In 2006, Randy made a difficult career decision when he retired from public school education to assume the role as Executive Secretary for the newly created UIL Music Region XXV, a position he continues to hold. He considers it a privilege to work with both young and seasoned teachers, serving as a mentor and clinician wherever needed.
In 1994-95, Randy was a nominee for the Denius UIL Sponsor of Excellence Award; in 1997 was nominated for the University of Texas Excellence Award for Outstanding High School Teachers; and in 2013 received the National Federation of High Schools Outstanding Music Educator Award (Texas).

Randy holds Bachelor of Music and Master of Education degrees from North Texas State University and has Mid-Management Certification. He is a member of Phi Mu Alpha, Phi Beta Mu, the Texas Music Educators Association, the Texas Bandmasters Association, and the Texas Music Adjudicators Association. He and Bonnie serve on the Board of Directors for Peak Music Festivals.

Randy and Bonnie celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary in 2019. They have two incredible daughters, Karen Freeman and Jillian Bartlett, one wonderful son-in-law, Brian Freeman, and two terrific grandchildren, Brett and Addison Freeman!
Randy is an avid golf enthusiast, playing as often as he can, and enjoys the camaraderie of the family hunting lease. He and Bonnie love to travel, especially pulling their fifth-wheel and camping in Colorado during the summer.

Randy is honored and humbled to be inducted into the Phi Beta Mu Texas Bandmasters Hall of Fame. He is grateful for the privilege and pleasure of continuing to work with the outstanding educators in Texas and thanks his colleagues, friends, and mentors throughout the state for their support and dedication to music education in Texas!

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