JIMMIE M. HUDGINS
Jimmie M. Hudgins was born March 12, 1925, in Cumby, Texas. He was the ninth of ten children. The family moved to Commerce, Texas, when he was two years old. Jimmie was an industrious boy, holding six jobs at one time when he was nine years old. He was a delivery boy for Western Union and the local drug store, delivered newspapers, skeeted sodas, linked sausage, and did mowing for the City of Commerce to pay the family utility bill. Jimmie laughingly says today, "Band directing was easy after being overworked as a boy." At Commerce High School, Jimmie began his music career playing the French horn. At the age of 14, he began playing in the East Texas State Symphonic Orchestra. After graduating from Commerce High School in 1941, Jimmie attended East Texas State until December of 1942, when he joined the U. S. Navy. He was on active duty until September, 1945. He served his country in the Naval Combat Air Division as an Aviation Radioman and Aerial Gunner in a Curtiss Helldiver. After returning from the war, Jimmie attended California Polytechnic College and the University of Iowa. He was in the Naval Reserve until 1949.
Music returned to the forefront in Jimmie's life when he returned to East Texas State Teachers College and received his Bachelor of Music Education degree in 1949. While in college, he was the Drum Major and a student coach of the boxing team. Jimmie later received the first East Texas State Distinguished Alumnus Award. In 1949, he accepted the job of Band Director at Timpson, Texas, where he remained until 1952. While at Timpson, Jimmie received his Master of Education degree from Stephen F. Austin State University. In 1952, he went to Stephen F. Austin High School in Port Arthur, Texas, where he remained until 1954.
On June 1, 1954, Jimmie accepted the position of Director of Bands at Stephen F. Austin State University. At that time, he was the youngest college band director in the state. The band was very small....only seventeen pieces. Jimmie set about to increase the size and improve the quality of the band. He and the existing college band members went from dormitory to dormitory looking for students who had some previous band experience. By the time the fall semester began, the enrollment was up to forty eight, and, at the end of his ten-year tenure, the SFA band was eighty pieces strong. When Jimmie began at SFA, he immediately redid many of the band's methods and styles. One big change was the new style of marching during half-time shows. Jimmie introduced military marching to his new band. As a versatile and talented director, he molded his bandsmen into a precision stepping, articulate group. Even though it took more work, the new style was a success and remains to this day. Many changes took place during Jimmie's time at SFA. In 1955, a jazz orchestra was formed. The band took an annual Spring Tour of area schools to promote the college and stimulate interest in the band program at SFA. Jimmie realized the need to educate future musicians and began the first band camp during his first summer at SFA. The following summer, the first twirling camp was held. Twirlers played an important part in the SFA band. Jimmie named them the Twirl-O-Jacks and demanded the same perfection from them as he did from his playing band members. Eventually, the Twirl-O-Jack Scholarship would be renamed the Jimmie M. Hudgins Scholarship. The SFA band was truly a performing band under Jimmie's leadership. They marched two Dallas Cowboy halftime shows, the Mardi Gras Parade in New Orleans, and the parade for the inauguration of Texas Governor John Connally, as well as playing many concerts and benefits. Jimmie left SFA in 1963, being called "the most productive Band Director in Lumberjack Band history." He was recently inducted into the SFA Band Directors Hall of Fame.
Looking forward to having three kids in college at the same time, Jimmie decided to go into a more lucrative career and joined Tatum Music Company as a retail salesman. He was with them for three years, and then joined C. G. Conn Ltd. for ten years where he was District Salesman and Field Sales Manager for the western half of the United States. His next position was as District Manager for H & A Selmer, Inc. where he stayed for four years. Returning to Texas, Jimmie spent eight years as part owner and stockholder of Swicegood Music Company in Beaumont.
In 1988, Jimmie went back to his first love, directing bands, when he accepted the position of Junior High and Assistant High School Band Director at Warren, Texas. During this time, he also worked as a band clinician for Brook Mays Music Company. Under the direction of High School Band Director Don Stockton and Jimmie, the Warren High School Band achieved the AA TMEA Honor Band. While he was in Warren, the band went to Hawaii and played on a Navy ship and on a Caribbean cruise where they entertained in Mexico and on the ship.
Jimmie retired from directing in 1988, but is still very involved in music. He has been guest conductor and clinician for many All-District, All-Region and All-State Honor Bands. He presently is employed by American Band Instrument Service in Tyler, Texas, where he continues to serve as music consultant and clinician for area bands. Jimmie's favorite song is "Imagination" and, through the years, he has used his imagination, skills, and enthusiasm to improve bands and many individual lives.
Mr. Hudgins passed away in February of 2016.