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Mike Cudd - Class of 2021

Michael Andrew Cudd was born in El Campo, Texas, on August 30, 1947. Mike knew from the first day of beginning band that his life goal was to become a band director. He was an average student, but he excelled in band. Mike’s father was not convinced that this was a viable vocation saying, “This is just going to be an expensive experiment.” Mike vowed to himself that someday, he would make his father recant that statement. Over time, his dad became his most ardent supporter. Mike credits his high school director, Hall of Fame member Tommy Williamson or “Uncle Willie” as his students secretly and affectionately called him, for nurturing and mentoring him in his musical endeavors. He was considered to be Mike’s second dad. Mike made the All-State Band both his junior and senior years. Hall of Fame member Dr. Ralph Mills conducted the All-Region Band Mike’s senior year, and he offered him a scholarship to Sam Houston State University on the spot.

Mike began his studies at Sam Houston State in the fall of 1965, where he was surrounded by wonderful teachers including Dr. Ralph Mills, Dr. Fisher Tull, Dr. Robert Morgan, Dr. John Butler, and Dr. James Marks. He was selected president of Kappa Kappa Psi band fraternity his junior year. He was also named Who’s Who in American Universities both his junior and senior years. After graduating in May 1969, Mike married his wife on his birthday, August 30, 1969, and received his draft notice the same week. He had been named the head director at Memorial Jr. High in Kingsville, Texas. After a nine-month deferment, Uncle Sam invited him to defend his country with his trusty trombone. As a member of the Fourth (later changed to the Fifth) Army Band, Mike was proud of the fact that San Antonio was safe from the Viet Cong while he was on duty with his trusty trombone. While he was a member, the Fifth Army Band provided music for the state funerals of Presidents Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson.

Upon completion of his military duty, Mike was named the Alief Middle School band director. In 1974, the band won the first ever first division rating in the history of the school. In 1976, he was named assistant director at Alief Hastings High School, where his non varsity band went to UIL contest for the first time in school history and received a first division rating in concert. In 1977, Mike and his wife embarked on an adventure to London, England, where they both taught for the American Community Schools of London. Following that year, Mike began working on his master’s degree at Sam Houston State University where he was reunited with Dr. Ralph Mills, serving as the graduate assistant and taking private clarinet lessons from him.

After graduating in August 1979, Mike became the head director at Columbia High School in West Columbia. His bands achieved two sweepstakes in his five-year tenure along with first divisions in concert four years. His marching bands won first divisions all five years, and the 1983 group competed at the State Marching Contest. In 1984, Mike became the Sweeny Junior High band director where his bands achieved an unprecedented level of success. In eleven years, his groups won twelve sweepstakes. The 1989 group had their tape advance to the State Honor Band competition. Mike and James Marioneaux, Hall of Fame member, worked together at Sweeny High School, and under their direction, the 1992 group competed at the State Marching Contest, won first place in the 1992 State Wind Ensemble contest, and placed second in 1993. The 1992 group, directed by James Marioneaux, and the 1994 group, directed by Bob Littlefield, finished as second runner-up in the class 3A honor band competition. Mike was named Sweeny Junior High teacher of the year in 1991.

In 1995, he became the junior high band director at West Columbia Jr. High. His bands won sweepstakes each year of his five-year tenure. Mike was named teacher of the year for the entire CBISD school district in 1997. In 2000, he became the director at OH Herman Middle School in Van Vleck, where his bands won six sweepstakes. His groups also competed in the OPS state competition. Working with Wayne McBee and later Mike Henderson, he helped the high school band compete at the State Marching Contest both in 2003 and 2005. The 2004 high school group also competed in the State Honor Band competition. In 2001, Mike was inducted into the Phi Beta Mu International School Bandmaster Fraternity, an honor that he was very humbled to receive.

Mike has been married to his wife, Mary, for over fifty years. They have lived in West Columbia, Texas, for over forty years. As a member of the Columbia United Methodist Church, Mike sings in the Chancel Choir and serves as a member of the Monday Morning Methodist group. Mike’s wife, Mary, is an attorney with offices in Angleton, Texas. They have two grown daughters: Mary Helene, a 1997 West Point graduate, and Elizabeth, who is a nurse. They also have five granddaughters: Marianne, Madeline, Lily, Olivia, and Whitney.

On October 31, 2014, Mike suffered what is termed the “widowmaker” heart attack and was life-flighted to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. The dedicated doctors were able to save his life, and he has continued to serve as a clinician and mentor to many of the area band programs. He credits the doctors, his wife, Mary, his daughter Mary Helene, and God Almighty for being able to continue doing what he loves, working with band students and their directors.

To be inducted into the Phi Beta Mu Directors Hall of Fame is the highest honor of his career. He loves and respects the many wonderful people that have had such a positive effect on his life, including but not limited to: Tommy Williamson, Dr. Ralph Mills, Wade and Fred McDonald, James Marioneaux, Bob Littlefield, and Mike Henderson. His career has been full of wonderful experiences with students, their parents, administrators, and the joyful camaraderie with fellow band directors. Mike credits his wife, Mary, and his family for their support over the fifty plus years he has been working with bands. It truly has been a wonderful journey.

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