MARCIA RUTH McENTYRE ZOFFUTO
The Oxford Dictionary of Musical Terms describes the meaning of “Marcia (It., mar’chah), in march-style.” With the bloodlines of a musical dynasty and the training and tradition of playing in her father’s legendary Permian High School Band and Orchestra, Marcia McEntyre Zoffuto lived her life like a march, with strongly marked rhythms, suitable of a procession, clearly destined to be a gifted performer and teacher. She was also a very loving and caring mother, daughter, sister and friend and touched the lives of countless people.
Marcia Ruth McEntyre Zoffuto, daughter of J.R. and Evelyn McEntyre, was born in San Antonio, Texas. She grew up in Odessa, Texas, and was educated in the Odessa public schools. As a very young child, Marcia exhibited a strong desire to perform to the very best of her ability every task assigned to her. Her first grade teacher, Mrs. Teel, told her parents, in confidence, that Marcia Ruth tried so hard to write perfect papers, but so many erasures and such sweaty little hands made the messiest papers that she had ever seen. Mrs. Teel assured Marcy that those papers were just fine.
Marcy’s musical experience began with piano lessons from Paul Peck of Odessa College where she developed into a very competent pianist. Later at Bonham Junior High School, she was introduced to the flute and taught by Kyle Crain. Among her Bonham Junior High Band classmates were Randy Storie, Carol Jessup, Ed and Fred Handley, Walter Reneau, Robbie Dean, and Dick Clardy. Marcy then attended Permian High School where she performed as a majorette with the marching band and played flute in the band and orchestra under the direction of her father, J.R. McEntyre. While in high school, Marcy earned a place in the Texas All-State Band three times. Her senior year Marcy performed as the principal flute in the symphonic band under the direction of Dr. William D. Revelli. She graduated from Permian High School in 1967.
One of Marcy’s favorite high school memories was on the occasion of the great football game between rivals Permian High School and Odessa High School. The Permian Band had some free time prior to the Friday morning pep-rally. Clarinetist and best buddy, Carol Jessup had, as Marcy described it, “a really cool sports car.” The two girls decided they would do a naughty thing before the pep-rally and honk at the Odessa High School Band. Carol sped her sports car across town to the OHS marching field, each girl gingerly carrying band instruments in hand! Just as they honked, waved, and hollered at the OHS Band, the girls realized only a few precious minutes remained until the pep-rally! Carol and Marcy were not only key players, they were bandleaders and tardiness was NOT an option! Carol quickly whipped the car in a U-turn, causing Marcy to fly out of the car and onto the pavement. Marcy was careful to keep her right hand, carefully clutching her flute, in the air. Her bottom was injured, but not her beloved flute, and both girls returned safely to Permian or the pep-rally without a minute to lose, f. In addition to their mischievous antics, Marcy and Carol practiced playing duets in the McEntyre home. They closed themselves in Mr. McEntyre’s bedroom walk-in closet, thinking they wouldn’t be heard by their band director. Not a chance!
A music education major at West Texas State University and student of Dr. Gary Garner, Marcia earned many awards and honors. She was the 1968 winner of the Amarillo Symphony Young Artists Competition, performed as the featured soloist on tour with the WTSU Symphonic Band, and was elected WTSU Homecoming Queen. The summer of 1969 Marcia was chosen Miss West Texas in the Odessa pageant and went on the next year to win the talent category and became a finalist in the Miss Texas Pageant in Fort Worth. A family photograph of Marcy as Miss West Texas, alongside fellow competitor, and ultimate Miss Texas winner Phyllis George, reveals the judges made a grave error! There was NO comparing Marcy to Phyllis George! Marcy earned her Bachelor of Music degree from West Texas State University in 1972. She also completed graduate course work at the University of Kansas and Fort Hays State University.
From 1988 to 1994, Marcia served as band director at McCullough Middle School in Highland Park, Texas; beginning band teacher in several Richardson, Texas schools; assistant band director at Lake Highlands Junior High School, Richardson and assistant band director at Westwood Junior High School, Richardson. In 1995 she began teaching in the Garland school district; first, as the head band director at Sam Houston Middle School; then, from 1998 until her retirement in 2008, the Director of Bands at Coyle Middle School in Rowlett, Texas.
Marcia’s musical philosophy always exhibited inclusion. Every student had a place in her band. She believed in maximizing the numbers of students in her performing ensembles and under her direction, the Coyle Band turned heads and grabbed people by the ears, earning unprecedented state and national acclaim. Their many honors included consistent UIL sweepstakes and Best in Class awards at many festivals. In 2000 the Coyle Band was the third runner-up in the TMEA CC Texas State Honor Band competition. In 2002 the band WON the CC State Honor Band competition and performed in San Antonio at the 2003 Texas Music Educators Convention. In 2003 the band was invited to perform at the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, Illinois. That same year, the Coyle Band was presented with the Sudler Cup from the John Philip Sousa Foundation. In 2005 the band was invited to perform at the Western International Band Clinic in Seattle, Washington, where a work by Robert W. Smith was commissioned. The band again won the Texas State Honor Band competition in 2006, this time in the CCC classification and performed at the Texas Music Educators Convention in 2007. The Legacy Brass Quintet, members of the Rowlett High School Band, all of whom were former members of the Coyle Band, were invited and performed at the 2007 Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, dedicating their performance to their beloved middle school director, Marcia Zoffuto. The Coyle Band was the only middle school invited to perform at the 2008 Bands of America Festival in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Ms. Zoffuto never failed to honor and recognize her beloved mentors and colleagues as guest artists in the many command performances of the Coyle Band. Guest conductors and performers included Marcy’s father, J.R. McEntyre; college teacher and director at WTSU, Dr. Gary Garner; high school and college friend, Dick Clardy; long-time friend and colleague, Jerry Finnell; daughter and flutist, Kristen; daughter and singer, Anne Marie; assistant director, Jason Brents, Jason Wallace, and Sheng Thao; private lesson staff and countless former students.
Band advocate and Coyle principal, Dretha Burris, and loyal band parent boosters were always steadfast in aiding Ms. Zoffuto in any endeavor. Staunch supporter and parent Larry Glick was so proud and excited about the Midwest performance, he arranged to have signs proclaiming the Coyle Band National Champions, posted in Rowlett. He also regularly purchased needed percussion equipment, commemorative signs, hats, shirts, sponsored celebrations and helped many needy students. “She is firm on discipline, but she chooses her battles carefully,” said Diane Hermann, a parent of one of Zoffuto’s students, in a newspaper interview. Mrs. Hermann went on to add, “She has the gift to discern what is worthy of her care and what is worthy of a good laugh.” Laughter was always part of Marcy’s spirit. She could keep the rehearsal focused but all in a nurturing atmosphere. Asked how she managed to achieve the relationships with her students and parents, Marcy said, “My greatest teacher was my own father who was my band director at Permian High School in Odessa, Texas. His expectations were extremely high but equally strong was his love for all of his students. My father was very good about that.” Marcy saw the best in everyone and with that optimism, she cultivated numerous friends with diverse interests. Regularly, upon arrival from her many airplane travels she would declare, “I met the most interesting person on that flight!”
In her last clinic presentation to colleagues at the West Texas Band Camp, the words most often heard were “insistent persistence.” With this work ethic, it is not surprising that the Coyle Band achieved so much, representing the very best in the Rowlett community, Garland school district, and the state of Texas. Coyle repertoire included the music of Holst, Vaughan Williams, Rossini, Sousa, Zaninelli, Ticheli, Anderson, delle Cese, and Grainger. After the Coyle Band’s Midwest performance, a high school director and convention attendee told band parent Larry Glick, “With my eyes open I saw 12, 13 and 14 year olds. When I closed my eyes I added about 10 years to everyone’s age. I wondered out loud how it was possible for these young people to possess this level of passionate musicianship that could only come with age.”
Marcia originally started teaching as a learning disability consultant prior to becoming a band director. With four children at home, daughters Kristen, Anne Marie, Megan, and son Mac, Marcy’s goal was to make sure she dedicated enough time to her family. Daughter Kristen, a flutist and band director, reminisces, “Mom made every Christmas and Easter beautiful and special. She loved being pregnant and having babies. She was thrilled to have a boy, our brother Mac, after her three girls.”
“Mom kept a vegetable garden for a long time. When we were young and couldn’t make it to my dad’s away football games, Friday nights consisted of homemade pizza (whole-wheat dough of course!) and the TV show, Dallas. We loved it!”
“She was a faithful walker and jogger, and completed several marathons…..not surprising. I remember also the time she went for a jog and broke her hand. When I asked her where she fell, she told me it was a place close to our house. ‘Mom! Why didn’t you just come home?’ I asked. She replied, ‘Well, I really wanted to finish my jog and I was afraid the doctors wouldn’t let me run again for a long time! Typical Mom!”
“Mom loved, loved, loved practicing her flute. She would always find a way to play, even if it wasn’t for very much time. She would play anything from Pop Goes the Weasel for us, to spot practicing passages from flute repertoire. I remember thinking ‘that is such a boring song; it just does the same thing over and over and over and over again.’ She REALLY practiced! Mom was on her way to a symphony audition when she found out she was pregnant with me.”
“Mom always used LOTS of hairspray! There were many times she set off our house fire alarm!”
“Mom was horribly competitive at board games. NO ONE wanted to play with her. One time my husband James made her so angry while winning (and possibly gloating) at Cranium, she got up and yelled, ‘People who are successful at board games are never successful in life!’ This story is told at every family gathering.” Sister Janis might add, “Sister (as she called Marcy) would get mad at me if she lost…but even madder if I let her win.”
In March, 2008, in Miami, Florida, Marcia was elected into membership of The American Bandmasters Association. On May 10, 2008, at Bass Hall in Fort Worth, Marcia was awarded the prestigious Bayard H. Friedman Hero Award by the Score a Goal for the Classroom Foundation as the Most Outstanding Band Teacher in North Texas. To honor Marcia’s legacy, the Score a Goal for the Classroom Foundation announced the Marcia Zoffuto Hero Award, to be given to an outstanding West Texas secondary music educator each May. Additionally, the Coyle Middle School Band Boosters established the Marcia Zoffuto Memorial Scholarship, to be awarded to a graduating senior from Rowlett High School, pursuing a music degree, and Choice Events sponsors the Marcia Zoffuto Memorial Scholarship for music education majors.
“Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Don’t steal. Don’t whine. Don’t complain. Don’t make excuses.” These powerful principles were one of many philosophical notes Marcia often placed in the band hall chairs, prior to Coyle Band rehearsals. She lived the same example of character she strived for her students to achieve, and left this world a far better place.