V. KENNETH “KEN” CALDWELL
Victor Kenneth Caldwell was born July 13, 1933, in Bessmay, Texas. He began his musical career in the band program in Crockett, Texas on an old Holton silver cornet, purchased by his parents from a neighbor for $25.00. In the seventh grade, he played in the high school band as the first chair trumpet. He moved to Nacogdoches, Texas in 1950 and became first trumpet until graduating in 1951. Roy Swicegood, band director at Stephen F. Austin, offered Kenneth a full scholarship to play in the SFA Lumberjack Band. While attending SFA, he met another SFA student, Billie Jo Childress, and they were married on April 3, 1953.
In 1954, he became band director in Timpson, Texas on an emergency certificate, as he had not finished his degree. That year, his band received a Sweepstakes; two band students made All-State Band; their son Vic was born on February 5th; and he was drafted into the Army in June. His tour of duty included 16 months in Seoul, Korea as a trumpet player in the Eighth Army Band. After separation from the army, he returned to SFA and completed his Bachelor of Music degree in the summer of 1957.
He accepted the band director position at Navasota High School in August of 1957, and served in that capacity for three years. During his tenure there he developed a fine marching band, but found that it wasn't so easy. While unloading the bus before a football game, he was informed that the cymbal player had forgotten her cymbals. He was a little upset. She then asked if she could go to the restroom and he said “Yes! You go find the restroom and come back and tell me so the other students will know where to go." She did exactly that, and then asked: "Now, may I go to the restroom?" The only football game he missed was in 1958 when their daughter Stacia was born.
The superintendent that presented his high school diploma in 1951 also hired him as Director of Bands at Nacogdoches High School in 1960. During his tenure at Nacogdoches High School, the band achieved many awards: first UIL Sweepstakes in the history of the school; first Six Flags Over Texas Band Festival in 1963; selected as the Texas Honor Band for the Four States Bandmasters Convention in 1963; and selected by the Region IV band directors as the representative to the TMEA Honor Band selection process in 1964. The years 1960 through 1965 were the most rewarding of his high school band directing career. The success, musical experience, and reunions Kenneth and his students shared together will never be forgotten.
In 1965, Kenneth was offered the band position at Weslaco High School in the Rio Grand Valley. The program had been successful for many years with outstanding directors such as Lloyd Reitz, Gene Braught, and Marion Busby. With the help of the junior high director, Henry Rodriguez, they continued the success with consistent first divisions in all categories. The bands in the Valley marched 8 to 5. Ken was from a 6 to 5 region. During a rehearsal he asked: "Would you like to march differently from the other bands?" The answer was a loud "Yes!" They changed to 6 to 5 with much success.
Kenneth accepted a stipend and graduate fellowship to begin work on a doctorate in Music Education at Arizona State University in Tempe. Within two years, he completed the course work and comprehensive exams and received his degree in 1976.
He began his college teaching career as Director of Bands for El Camino College in Torrance, California in the summer of 1971. This was an exciting time for Kenneth and his family. The seven years he served at El Camino College was filled with European, Mexican and western state tours; concert performances for the College Band Directors' National Association in 1975; and marching performances for professional athletic events and exhibitions. He also conducted All-State and regional Honor Bands in California, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico.
Taking a leave of absence from El Camino College, he became the conductor of the University of Wisconsin Wind Symphony and Symphonic Band in Milwaukee from 1978-79. In 1978, the band was host for the National Convention for the College Band Directors National Association. Ken said of Wisconsin: "It was a wonderful and musical experience working with these outstanding students. However, the weather was cold, so cold we had to move SOUTH!"
Instead of returning to El Camino College, he accepted the position of Director of Bands at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. This was definitely a rebuilding job! With only 28 players and one bass drummer who said: "I can't come to rehearsals, but I'll be at the game Saturday night to play bass drum for you!" With the help of students, the music faculty, and the President of the university, Kenneth developed a fine band program that was growing and on track for the future.
In 1981, Kenneth was asked to conduct the Arizona All-State Band, for the third time, at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. This was the beginning of communications concerning the band director's position. In 1982, he became Northern Arizona University's Director of Bands, and served in that capacity for three years. Although his experiences were gratifying, he expressed the desire to change professions. Thus, the next move was to purchase Loveall Music Company, Inc, from Jerry and Nita Loveall in Texarkana, Texas in 1986, very close to home.
They spent fourteen years in the retail music business serving the Four States area. Because of the increased sales and customer growth, in 1999, they moved to a new larger building, in a great location, to better serve their customers. On August 11, 2000, Loveall Music Company, Incorporated, merged with Brook Mays Music Company. The two companies share the same philosophy of total commitment to support music education in the schools. He is now a clinician and consultant for Brook Mays Music Company.
Kenneth and Billie Jo have a son Vic, a daughter Stacia, and a granddaughter Peyton, their pride and joy.