JAMES MICHAEL (MIKE) GEDDIE
James Michael (Mike) Geddie was born in Longview, Texas, on May 19, 1943, to Singleton and Alice Geddie. The family soon moved to Marshall where Mike attended and graduated from Marshall ISD. A neighborhood friend suggested to Mike’s mother that he should take piano lessons to help him overcome his shyness. That started him on his music career at the age of five. Mike says he can remember being able to read music before he could read the names of the pieces he played!
Mike started playing the trombone in the 7th grade, which he continued until he graduated from Marshall High School and joined the Kilgore College Ranger Band at Kilgore College. He met his future wife, Judy Wallace, a clarinet player and band sweetheart, while attending KJC. They both went on to Stephen F. Austin State where they graduated in l965 and were married that year. Both went on to earn master’s degrees from SFASU, with Mike earning a Master of Music degree. Mike and Judy are proud parents of three sons, Christopher, Patrick, and Clay. They are also proud to claim title to their three beautiful daughters-in-law, Shannon, Amanda, and Kalyn. In addition they have eight grandchildren: Carli, Catie, Cole, Rebecca, Leah, Julia, Caleb, and Ella.
Mike’s teaching career began at Marshall Jr. High working with his high school band director, James Hammett. His first year salary was $4250. He promptly went out and bought a new car, appropriately a Dodge Cornet! After one year at Marshall, Mike moved to West Rusk Jr. High, working for Bonnie Ross. After two years at West Rusk where he earned the first Division I in the school’s history, Mike moved to Atlanta, Texas where was head director of the program and the ONLY director in the program! His second year in Atlanta, the band made a Sweepstakes and at twenty-six years old, this marked him as the youngest 2A director in the state to earn Sweepstakes award that year.
After four years at Atlanta, Mike moved to Beaumont and the French High School band. His boss at French was Arnold Whedbee. Mr. Whedbee was a fantastic musician and mentor. Mike says, “Arnold taught me how to teach.” His first day on the job at French, Arnold came by the office and gave him a book. Arnold said that he read from it each day and it might be a good habit to start. The book was The Harvard Dictionary of Music and it stayed on Mikes’ desk the rest of his teaching career. However, after two years in the big city of Beaumont, with big mosquitoes, black gumbo mud, floods, and storms, Judy said, “You can continue to teach here, but you are going to have to commute from East Texas.”
The family moved to Kilgore and found a home for the next fifteen years. The Kilgore band had fallen on hard times and the band only had forty-six students. Mike sent out a letter to all former band students asking them to come back and give the new director a chance. Unfortunately, four more students quit! In the 1980s, the band grew to about 150 students and earned ten years of Sweepstakes awards. In l987, the KHS band was one of only two 4A bands to be in the top ten in the state in both marching and concert. The success of the program was based on hiring good middle school and assistant directors. Among those were Kenneth Griffin, Mitchell Smith, Larry Ward, Don Lawler, Jim Hughes, and Rita Riensch.
After 15 years Mike moved to Mabank for one year as band director. That year the Mabank band made its first Division I in thirty-one years!
After 25 years of teaching, Mike made the decision to take on new challenges. He went to work for Henco as a sales rep in fundraising for North East Texas. His first year he earned the distinction of “Rookie of the Year” from a class of eighteen sales people. The second year Henco was purchased by Cherrydale Farms. Mike has now been representing Cherrydale for over twenty years and continues his work with the company on a limited basis. During his career he has helped East Texas school groups raise over ten million dollars.
Mike says he saw a need in the band world for more help for the young band directors in East Texas. “What little I had learned over the years, I wanted to share with other directors. As I worked in fundraising, I saw great work in hundreds of band halls and picked up more great ideas from other directors. I tried to pass that knowledge along where I could,” states Mike.
Mike Geddie was a charter member of Phi Mu Alpha at SFASU, NAMMB, is a member of Phi Beta Mu, was named Teacher of the Year in Kilgore, and is a member of the First Baptist Church Liberty City, where he plays in the orchestra. Mike wishes to thank his many friends and family member for their support through the years and especially thank Phi Beta Mu and the Texas Bandmasters for this great honor.