Tom Neugent was born in Deport, Lamar County, Texas on May 1, 1939, to Nolan and Zela Neugent. Tom attended schools in Talco, Titus County, Texas and played in the Talco High School Band from the firth grade until he graduated from high school in May, 1957. As a member of a small school band, he was called upon to play a different instrument almost every year.
Tom entered East Texas State College in September, 1957 as a Music Education major and his principal instrument was the euphonium. He attended for one year and then had to drop out for financial reasons. He reentered college in the fall of 1959 after obtaining the position of band director at Honey Grove ISD in nearby Fannin County. The band classes were scheduled in the afternoon, enabling Tom to attend classes in the morning at ETSC. While teaching and attending college, he met Jackie Self. She was the drum major at Honey Grove High School and then attended East Texas. Tom received his Bachelor of Science with a major in Music Education in August, 1964. At that time, he was employed all day at Honey Grove. He married Jacquelyn June Self on August 7, 1964 in the First Christian Church in Honey Grove.
In January, 1966, Tom and Jackie moved to White Deer, Texas where he had accepted the position of Director of Bands in the White Deer-Skellytown ISD. Then, in June of 1967, Tom and Jackie returned to Fannin County where he accepted the position of Director of Bands in the Bonham ISD. While he was employed there, Jackie was able to finish her undergraduate degree from East Texas State University and begin her career as an educator. In January of 1971, their first child, Natalie, was born. Tom received his Master of Education Administration from ETSU in August of 1971. During his five years at Bonham, Tom’s legacy of success began. With help from his wife, some very hard-working, enthusiastic students, a supportive administration and community, and many phone calls to colleagues such as Ivan Goodwin, Bob Cartwright, and Pete Rodriguez - to name a few - the Bonham High School Band achieved its first two consecutive sweepstakes in 1971 and 1972.
The Neugent family moved to Euless, Texas in the summer of 1972, where Tom accepted the position of Director of Bands at Trinity High School in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD. Jackie stayed at home with Natalie and then gave birth to Nathaniel in January of 1975. She began teaching again a few years later, teaching sixth grade and then serving as the assistant principal at Midway Park Elementary in HEB until 1995.
In his twenty-four years at Trinity High School, the band achieved twenty-four consecutive UIL sweepstakes ratings. The Trinity High School band was named Outstanding Band in their classification at several invitational contests throughout the United States, including Smoky Mountain Music Festival in Gatlinburg, TN, Six Flags Over Georgia in Atlanta, Six Flags Over Mid-America in St. Louis, the Durango, CO Fine Arts Festival, Winter Park Music Festival, Mountain States Music Festival in Phoenix, AZ, Bluebonnet Festival in San Antonio, Galveston Music Festival, and Cavalcade of Music in Colorado Springs. In addition, the Trinity High School band was selected to attend the UIL State Marching Contest on two different occasions and was an area finalist three times in Honor Band selection. Tom was named Teacher of the Year at Trinity High School for the 1981-1982 school year. During his tenure at Trinity, Tom was able to introduce the band students to many challenging and diverse pieces of band literature, including obscure German and Prussian marches, major orchestral transcriptions, and the newest band compositions of that time. His philosophy for UIL was to program a traditional march, an orchestral transcription and a strictly band composition. The exceptional band students at Trinity were always able to perform this literature with superior results. Throughout his career, Tom has served as conductor at numerous summer band camps, adjudicator, all region clinician and workshop facilitator throughout the country.
Jackie is currently serving as principal at Aaron Parker Elementary School in Powderly, Texas, a position she has held since 1995. Parker is the only rural school in the North Lamar ISD, located 15 miles north of Paris on US 271. Both of Tom’s children played in the Trinity High School band and are now music educators. Natalie is an elementary music teacher at West Hurst Elementary School in the HEB system, and is serving as region president of the Texas State Teachers Association. Nathaniel is Director of Bands at Creekview High School in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, and serves as the Region 24 representative for the Texas Bandmasters Association. Directing a successful program, Nathaniel’s band has been selected to the State Marching Contest twice in the last three years. Tom’s grandson, Connor, was born to Nathaniel and his wife, Nicki in April of 2000.
Tom is currently employed with the North Lamar ISD as adjunct wind instructor, working with band students in the afternoon. He also conducts one of the oldest Municipal Bands in the state of Texas. Beginning in the summer of 2001, Tom annually directs the Paris Municipal Band, which performs six Friday night concerts at Bywaters Park in June and July. Tom is a Member of Phi Beta Mu International Bandmasters Fraternity, TBA, TMEA, a charter member of TMAA, Texas Retired Teachers Association, and Phi Delta Kappa education fraternity. Many of Tom’s former students are band directors, music teachers, professional musicians, or still perform at church or in community bands.
Tom and Jackie are active members of the Calvary United Methodist Church in Paris. They attend Sunday School, have taken many bible study courses and Tom sings in the Chancel Choir. They are both involved in volunteer service in Lamar County. They reside at Hidden Lakes Estates in Powderly, Texas.