Gary Zook was born April 4, 1933, on a small farm in Wilson County, Texas, five miles south of Floresville. He attended Floresville public schools and played in the band under the direction of “Uncle” Fritz Teltschik.
After graduation from Floresville High School in 1950, Gary enrolled at McMurry College in Abilene, Texas, as a Music Education major under the guidance of Dr. Raymond T. “Prof’ Bynum. He received his B.S. in Music Education from McMurry in 1954. Later he returned to McMurry and completed his M.Ed. in secondary administration in 1959.
In 1954, the Korean conflict and the specter of the military draft seemed to stand in the way of a permanent teaching position, so Gary auditioned for and was accepted into the Fourth Army Band at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio. After completion of Army basic training at beautiful Ft. Bliss, and a six-month assignment at the U.S. Navy School of Music in Washington, D.C., Gary returned to Ft. Sam Houston, and served the remainder of his military service playing saxophone and flute with the Fourth Army Band. It was during this time that he met and married his life¬long partner, Virginia, who, among other things, ensured that he would never want for a great oboe player in his bands by providing him with two All-Staters, son, Keith, and daughter, Jan.
Gary’s teaching career finally began in 1957, as band director in Albany, Texas. In 1958, he moved to Olney, Texas, as band and choir director at Olney High School. In 1964, he left Olney to accept a position as director of bands in Canyon, Texas. One of the highlights in his band directing career came in 1969, when his Canyon High School Band was selected TMEA Honor Band. In 1970, Gary accepted a position with the McAllen Independent School District as Director of Bands.
One the most important events for the McAllen High School Band was the International Spring Fiesta Concert. Appearing with the band were guest conductors, which included the late Col. Harold Bachman, and CDR. Donald W. Stauffer, director of the U.S. Navy Band, as well as numerous soloists such as Alfred Gallodoro, Don Jacoby, Bobby Herriot, and Harvey Pittel. Gary also was instrumental in establishing the City of Palms Band Festival, which was held in conjunction with the International Spring Fiesta. The McAllen High School Band was honored in 1973, with an invitation to perform at halftime at Texas Stadium for the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles game.
Gary left band directing in 1978, but during his twenty-one year career his bands received more than fifty Superior ratings in UIL competition including fourteen Sweepstakes awards, as well as First Division ratings at Buccaneer Days, Six Flags Over Texas, and Six Flags Over Georgia band festivals. He served as adjudicator in UIL and other band competitions throughout Texas and Oklahoma and taught summer band camps at McMurry, West Texas State, Midwestern University, and TCU.
Gary became assistant principal or as Dr. Gary Garner put it, “went over to the enemy” at McAllen High School in 1978 and remained in that position for three years. In 1981, he was promoted to principal at McAllen High School and served in that capacity until his retirement in 1989. He and Virginia moved back to the farm in Floresville where their lives are controlled by cows instead of kids.