Marching Hundred Drum Major
(by Ted Blevins, Marching Hundred 1956-57-58)
Wesley L. Humphrey 83, passed away on May 28, 2012.
He was Drum Major of the Marching “100” from 1948-1951. He was a graduate of Whiting, Indiana High School where he had been a French horn player. He served in the United States Army in Korea in Special Services, entertaining the troops before going to Indiana University. He was an accomplished jazz piano player. During his time at IU he played piano in Bloomington at various night spots.
Wes was drum major at the same time that Nick Mikalaris was featured twirler with the Marching “100”. He graduated with a Bachelor of Music Education degree and was a high school band and choir director for many years. His first school was for one semester at Aurora, Indiana High School. In the fall of 1952 he became band and choir director at Hagerstown, Indiana and enjoyed four years of directing many successful musical organizations. Those were the Golden Tiger Marching and Concert Bands, Circus Band, Dance Band, Jug Band(of which he had been a member of the first Jug Band in the United States) while in school at Whiting. Also directed Brass Choir, Madrigal Singers, Boys Choir, Girls Choir, and mixed high school choir, in addition to teaching 7th and 8th grade music classes at Hagerstown High School. He also wrote the HHS Alma Mater.
Wes had a rare closeness with his music students. He expected good behaviour and performing to the best of ones abilities. And he was a good friend to all of us who were fortunate to spend the four years with him. It was our priviledge to spend great amounts of time doing things with him outside of school, such as going fishing, hunting, or just hanging out with him.
From Hagerstown he was band director in Delphi, Indiana, Whiting/Highland area and Sierra Vista, Arizona, where his band performed in one of the Rose Bowl Parades. The past several years he has been in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Wes was very active in music activites even into his 80s. He formed and directed a Symphonic Wind Ensemble, played in a jazz combo, wrote and arranged music in addition to directing bands in Lake Havasu City. He retired at least three times and was called back to fill in for directors who had left at mid year.
His last performance was in April of this year, a few weeks before his passing. We were making plans to get together in June at an All American Brass Band Festival in Danville, KY, an event he had attended several times. And after that he and his wife Bonnie, were to come to Hagerstown for a few days with some of his former “Bandjocks”.
There are special people who come into our lives. Wes was certainly one of those. His caring and guidance have left a great legacy to many of us. To those of us who still play music, he will live on thru the memories of the times we shared with him.