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Stuart Bird - Class of 2022

Stuart Bird was born December 8, 1947, to Martha and Billy Bird in Mansfield, Louisiana. He graduated from Many High School in Many, Louisiana, in 1966. Stuart attended Stephen F. Austin State University and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, graduating from Northwestern with a bachelor’s degree in music education and a master’s degree in educational administration. Stuart was influenced early in life by his mother’s love of music for Broadway and The Boston Pops, as well as his uncle, Noel Tipton, a Juilliard graduate.

At nineteen Stuart began teaching band, the start of a forty-seven year career in education. He was band director in Natchitoches Parish schools, Zwolle High School, Many High School, and Carthage High School. When he began his career in Carthage, the band program had 99 students. The program soared to 280 students during his tenure in this position. Stuart also served as Director of Fine Arts for Carthage Independent School District. As a director, he sought to instill his motto of “pride and character” in his students – in their individual performances, in the performance of the band, and in their lives. His award-winning bands were known for their precision drills and quality of sound. Stuart instilled enthusiasm for excellence with his “one more time” motto for good measure. Throughout his twenty years of teaching band, Stuart’s bands received eighteen first divisions at UIL Marching Contest, twenty UIL Concert and Sight Reading first divisions, eighteen UIL Sweepstakes awards, and was the winner of the prestigious NAMMB contest in 4A. Stuart worked diligently to preserve the Military Marching style perpetuated through NAMMB.

Stuart moved from the classroom to administration, serving as principal at Carthage High School and Jacksonville High School. He also served as superintendent for Jacksonville Independent School District, and after a brief retirement, superintendent for Troup Independent School District and interim assistant superintendent for Tyler Independent School District. Stuart’s common sense, attention to detail, love of people and his personal belief in pride and character made him a natural leader among his colleagues, parents, students, and personnel.

Always the educator, Stuart was a clinician for all-district and all-region bands throughout Louisiana and Texas and was a judge for numerous band contests in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. Throughout his career, Stuart continued to mentor young administrators, teachers, and band directors so that they could become masters in their own fields.
Stuart was the recipient of the Hall of Distinguished Educators, College of Education at Northwestern State University in 2015 and was the Northwestern State University Alumni Band Director of the Year in 1992. One of his most cherished experiences was being inducted into the Carthage Band Hall of Fame that included having Dr. Timothy Rhea, Director of Bands at Texas A&M University, compose a march in honor of Stuart. He was filled with pride hearing “Bird’s Battlin’ Brigade” for the first time. More so than that, Stuart loved watching the Texas A&M Marching Band perform and play his march during one of their halftime shows. Additionally, Stuart was awarded the “Influential Educator” award by the Jacksonville Education Foundation Board. Stuart was a member of various organizations, ranging from educational affiliations to civic interests as well as honorary memberships. He was a member of Texas Bandmasters Association, Texas Music Educators Association, Phi Beta Mu, Texas Music Adjudicators Association, National Association of Military Marching Bands, Texas Association of School Administrators, and Texas Association of School Boards. Stuart has always enjoyed the camaraderie among band directors in our state, and he enjoyed those in East Texas in particular. Words cannot express the gratitude that Stuart felt towards his mentors: Neil Grant, John “Pete” Kunkel, and Jerry Hanszen.

Stuart and Sharon Bird enjoyed thirty-nine years of marriage. While raising their family, they worked side by side with Sharon serving as his longest assistant band director. They have three children: Tracy Modlin, Adam Bird, and Kyle Bird.

On behalf of Stuart, his wife Sharon and his family would like to thank Phi Beta Mu for this award and Texas Bandmasters Association for hosting the ceremony honoring the recipients. Stuart would be proud to receive this prestigious honor.

“May the trumpets always play clean, the trombones with some meat in their sound, and the tubas fill the hall with beauty. With one final call to attention, we salute you Stuart.”

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