WILLIAM E. “BILL” TREGOE
A native of a Baltimore, Maryland suburb, Bill Tregoe was born in 1928 into a non-musical family. Bill became interested in the trumpet through 78 RPM big band recordings and “B” movies featuring the big bands of the late thirties and forties. His primary and secondary education was received in the Baltimore County Public School System, which, at the time, did not offer an instrumental music course. Consequently, from 1940-1946 beginning trumpet lessons were undertaken and continued at the C. G. Conn Music Store and Studios.
In further pursuit of the art of playing in the big band styles, Bill attended rehearsal band sessions in 1942 and 1943. This involved a 25 mile bus ride after school to the rehearsal followed by the return bus ride and a 5 mile “hitch-hike,” usually at 1-2 A.M. after the rehearsal. During the war years, as each trumpet player was drafted Bill moved from the 5th trumpet book to the 3rd, to the 2nd and ultimately up to the lead trumpet book permanently.
Upon graduation at 17 from Franklin High School in June 1945, Bill became an employee of the Alcohol Tax Division of the Internal Revenue Service. He continued playing in the big band on weekends and purchased his first car, a 1939 Desoto.
During the summer of 1946, while waiting to be drafted, Bill decided his lifetime career was not to be a “revenuer.” Arrangements were made to attend the Navy School of Music upon induction into the service. Late one night upon returning home from a band rehearsal, there was a letter from the Selective Service Department. Just one day before he was to report for induction preliminaries, the letter advised him not to report for duty as the draft was no longer in effect.
Bill was an avid reader of Downbeat Music magazine and noticed several ads offering scholarships to dance band/jazz musicians to attend college at some schools in the west and southwest. The only accredited college listed was West Texas State Teachers College. He applied and was accepted. He sold his 1939 Desoto and along with several other “yankees” enrolled in what was to become West Texas State University and later West Texas A & M University.
In 1947, Bill became a charter member of the Alpha Psi Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi Honorary Band Fraternity, and he graduated in 1949 with a Bachelor of Science degree with a Major in Music Education. Later in 1956, he received a Master of Arts degree in Music Education. Linda Matthews of Littlefield, Texas, and Bill were married June 1, 1950 and had three children: Terry, 1951; Jerry, 1962 (deceased 1981) and Shari, 1964.
After an absence of a band program in Tahoka, Texas, since pre-war years, Bill became band director and organizer of the Tahoka High School Band in September 1949. Interest was high, and there was little difficulty in enrolling fifty plus students in the first organized classes. After two and a half months of instruction, the band learned six easy marches and the alma mater and performed at the last two football games of the 1949 season.
After the 1950-51 school year, Bill was offered the position at Iraan High School with the stipulation that he accompany 25 select students to the sweltering Fourth Annual Marching and New Music Clinic sponsored by the Texas Bandmasters Association in August 1951. An excellent band program had been previously established, and his tenure at Iraan was rewarded with winning top honors in their class at the Tri-State Festival at Enid, Oklahoma, in May 1952.
In October 1953, Bill was offered the position of band director at Pampa High School. He accepted, and with his wife Linda, their two year old son, Terry, and all their worldly possessions in a U-Haul trailer, they headed for Pampa 385 miles away. Many hours later at 1 A.M., with a flat tire on the trailer just fifteen miles from their destination, the family arrived in Pampa. They were lured by “PROFESSIONAL ADVANCEMENT’ at a $600 cut in pay. But, a non-degree pay Third Grade teaching position at $1,800 per year was waiting for Linda. After paying a baby sitter, now called child care, she netted $25 per month and needed every bit of it. Linda completed her degree requirements a year later and began her 40 year teaching career combined with raising her children.
Highlights of Bill’s tenure in Pampa would have to include a realistic “humility check” at the 1954 Class AAAA UIL concert contest. Bill and his stage crew removed over 100 chairs from the stage area in order to seat 54 Pampa High School Band members who performed after a great Amarillo High School Band. His only comment was “we shall return.” Other more pleasant highlights were being selected and performing at the Midwest National Band Clinic in Chicago, December 14, 1960; and being awarded trophies for Outstanding Concert Band, Outstanding Marching Band Field Performance, Sweepstakes Award for total points in Class A, and the Outstanding Street Parade Band in all classes at the Tri-State Music Festival in Enid, Oklahoma, May 5, 1962. The 1962 band was also selected as the Region I nominee for the TMEA Honor Band.
Bill was a member of the UIL Rules Advisory Committee from 1958-1962. In 1959, he was honored with membership in the Alpha Chapter of Phi Beta Mu Bandmasters Fraternity, and later served as President in 1964. Since 1965, Bill has been a member of the Florida Omega Chapter of Phi Beta Mu. He has been a member of ASBDA since 1961.
In July 1962, Bill joined the Earl Ray Band Company as a school sales representative, serving over 60 schools in the Panhandle. He was employed as a District Sales Manager for a number of national firms from 1986 to the present. His thirty-three years as a District Sales Manager were served in the states of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Northwest Florida and 13 years in Arkansas.
Mr. Tregoe passed away in February of 2015.