Wayne Maxwell was born in Wichita Falls, Texas near the end of the “Great Depression”. His father, E. D. (Shorty) Maxwell, worked in the oil field in Archer County for more than 50 years. His mother, Beatrice Maxwell, was a hard-working, people-loving woman who worked as a seamstress at the local Levi Strauss factory to help Wayne and his sister, Patricia, attend college. It was his mother’s singing of “pop” tunes around the house that fostered Wayne’s love of music.
Wayne began school in Wichita Falls but his family soon moved to Valley View, where he had his first opportunity to perform as a member of the “rhythm band”, in which he happily played triangle, tambourine and sang with the group. His music teacher encouraged him to continue his participation in music when his family moved to Archer City, Texas in the middle of his third grade year.
He began band class in the sixth grade, playing a Pan American metal clarinet rented from Max Kruetz’s House of Music. Fred Prentice was Wayne’s band director at Archer City High School for three years. It was Fred who introduced Wayne to “Dixieland jazz” and Wayne’s resulting love for jazz led him to earn a dance band scholarship to East Texas State Teachers College.
He played football, basketball and baseball in the public schools. Archer City was a small town and everyone had to participate so that they would have enough players. He also played on the “town team”, coached by a man who dedicated his life to helping young people - Sam Baker, who would be immortalized as “Sam, the Lion” by friend and fellow teammate, Larry McMurtry in “The Last Picture Show”. Wayne was president of his senior class (all 29 of them), student council president, co-captain of the football team and a “student conductor” in band at UIL band contest.
At East Texas State, his scholarship ($62.50 per month) required him to perform in the East Texans Dance Band, which played a dance practically every Saturday night for the social clubs on campus, move pianos, and see to whatever needed “doing” around the music building. Wayne split a major on clarinet and bassoon, an instrument he had not seen up close until he arrived in Commerce.
Wayne’s first teaching position was as band director and assistant coach in Kemp, Texas. As a coach at the high school football games, Wayne would call up the next tune for the band to play at time-outs, return to the bench, then hustle back to the band to kick-off the time out tune. During that first year, Wayne met and married his wife of twenty-seven years, Sammie Smith. The next year they moved to Springdale, Arkansas, where Wayne was the Junior High Band director, assisted at the high school, and started a string program at the fourth grade level.
Next came a move to West Texas-four years as a junior high director and assistant to Cecil Douglas at the High school in Seminole, one year as band director in Alpine and five years as director at John B. Hood Junior High in Odessa. It was during this time that Wayne was influenced by such experienced teachers as J. R. McEntyre, Bill Dean, Dan Gibbs, Tommy Fry and G. T. Gilligan. He worked with Ike Nail, Jerry Finnell, Max Morley and Don Hanna- the junior high directors who started “team teaching”, began the Odessa All-City Jr. High Band, and began using the breath impulse system. During that five year period, junior high bands from Odessa ranked first, second, and first in honor band tape competition, while Permian High was ranked first in 5A competition.
The Maxwell children, Missy and Shaun, were born in Odessa. Both were considerate enough to be born on the weekend – so as not to interrupt their dad’s teaching schedule.
McCollum High School in San Antonio was the next stop for Wayne and his family. During his time there the school was awarded the Francis Bellamy Award and the band became one of the better bands in town. The band traveled to the Greater Southwest Music Festival in Amarillo and performed for judges William Revelli, Fred Ebbs and William Swohr and received top ratings. During this period Wayne served as band division chairman for the region-his first experience working in such a capacity. The family then moved Brenham-where both children attended and graduated from high school-and began what proved to be a long stay. Brenham was in Region 18 at the time, and the band competed with such outstanding programs as Lee Boyd Montgomery’s Westlake High and Rodney Klett’s Georgetown High. He served as band division secretary for the region and the region’s high standards inspired the Brenham Bands to continue raising the standards and expectations of both band members and the community. Brenham bands placed 2nd, 5th, and 7th in honor band competition and were selected as outstanding at Buccaneer Days in Corpus Christi and ContraBand Days in Lake Charles. It was here that Sammie, after a courageous twelve year battle with cancer, passed away.
Serving as director of bands in the Tomball school was the last stop in Wayne’s teaching career. High school band enrollment for the first year was about 65 members. But the band program received strong support from the administration, including principal John Neubauer who promised and came through with a steak cook-out for the band when it put 150 members on the field at a football game. The program continued to flourish and grow, being selected in the top six in honor band competiton and at the state marching band contest in 4A. The band was selected as the outstanding band at all of the American Classic music festivals in Texas, his 37th and final year of teaching. Soon after moving to Tomball, Wayne met and married JoAnn. They still reside in Tomball. Wayne served as band chairman for Region 9 and had the pleasure of working closely with the outstanding directors in the area for eight years.
Wayne still travels to Brenham during the school year- teaching private lessons at all of the schools- and enjoys a wonderful working relationship with the music staff there. He works as the Houston representative for Tote Unlimited.