JEFFERSON RICE DOUGHTEN
Jefferson Rice Doughten is made of strong stock. He was born on June 11, 1942, to James Doyle and Martha Mahota Doughten in Hollis, Oklahoma, one hour after his paternal grandfather passed away in the same hospital. At the age of six, he hitchhiked from Hollis, Oklahoma, to Borger, Texas, to be with his family who was forced to leave him with his grandparents due to financial struggles. His musical career began in fourth grade in Panhandle, Texas, when his parents took the $350 they had saved to install electricity in their railroad bunkhouse to purchase an alto saxophone so that Jeff could participate in the band.
Gerald Smith came to Panhandle as band director two years later. Jeff spent his high school years fluctuating between the influence of Gerald and the high school football coach, Clint Williams. A football injury his senior year meant Jeff would commit to music for the rest of his life. In all of his wisdom and wit, Gerald might question his influence when he remembers Jeff being in trouble during band rehearsal for repeatedly loosening the lock on Marihoward Englebrecht’s music stand. Nevertheless, Jeff’s all-consuming passion for music was never lost. This meant Gerald would mentor Jeff and be a central part of his musical career until his passing. Gerald was especially important when Jeff became band director at White Deer High School, only thirteen miles from Panhandle. Gerald was not only a musical mentor but also a lifelong friend and fishing buddy. The two friends spent many summers fishing in New Mexico.
During a summer band rehearsal break his freshman year at West Texas State College (now West Texas A&M University), Jeff unknowingly met his bride-to-be, Wanda Lawrence, in the college post office. Before their junior year in 1962, the couple exchanged wedding vows. During his senior year, Jeff was elected band president, his wife was elected band sweetheart and he began teaching at Nazareth High School. Jeff completed his fourth year of private saxaphone lessons with Mr. Rowie Durden, and Dr. Gary Garner began his tenure at West Texas A&M University. Due to the close relationship Dr. Garner and Jeff formed during this time, Dr. Garner became another significant mentor for Jeff’s musical future.
In 1966, Jeff was hired at Pampa Junior High. Even though Harris Brinson and Joe DiCosimo would become mentors and friends later, they made sure Jeff knew that the expectations for excellence were high and anyone who did not meet them would not stay in the Pampa band program long. Even two excellent ninth grade band students such as Buzzy Green and Dewey Wheat did not relieve Jeff’s stress about earning first divisions in Pampa. (Jeff did not know how prominent Buzzy would be in his life, even influencing his older daughter’s career path.)
When Jeff felt a strong pull to be a high school director, he moved to Altus, Oklahoma, to be director of “That Altus Band.” As band directors, Jeff, Larry Harris, and Dois Pace brought the flavor of Texas band competition to Oklahoma. Success led him on to Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Oklahoma. His ambition to work on his doctorate at Arizona State University was not to be realized as family called. Medical issues pulled Jeff back to Texas. Stratford High School was closer to ailing parents and meant that he would work with other musical friends like Bill and Pat Surface, former students at Southwestern Oklahoma State University and outstanding Oklahoma Hall of Fame band director Jackie Gilley. A special highlight at Stratford was being named the outstanding band at the Cañon City Music Festival in Cañon City, Colorado.
In 1973, the Pampa attitude was strong enough to convince Jeff that Pampa High School was his calling. Not only was he Director of Bands, but also professionally involved as Regional Chairman for Region I. In addition to successful festival and UIL competitions, the Pampa band traveled to Dublin, Ireland. Through the dedicated efforts of outstanding band students such as Carrie Guinn, Kathy Davis, Brent Caldwell and many others, the band was able to garner the esteemed hand-etched and hand-cut Waterford crystal trophy as the outstanding unit in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade out of 126 entries. The jazz band accepted an invitation to perform at the Lord Mayor’s Ball (comparable to the Inaugural Ball for the President of the United States). The band also returned with many other individual honors including outstanding drum major and outstanding twirlers. At the awards ceremony, William Revelli presented Jeff the “Citation of Excellence Award” from the National Band Association. The White House staff of President Jimmy Carter sent congratulations as well.
Still in the presidential avenue, the Pampa band was selected to play “Ruffles and Flourishes” for President Gerald Ford when he visited Amarillo while campaigning for a second term. A verbal “invitation” to march in the inaugural parade was given, if re-elected, but unfortunately, did not come to fruition. An additional honor was afforded to the Pampa band when they were invited to march in the 1979 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. This meant many more hours in the band room to prepare, but it was all worth it when daughter, parents, in-laws, sister, and cousins would all be on the parade route to cheer on the band. The Pride of Pampa Band would, once again, bring national recognition to their Texas Panhandle town. This recognition was supported through airtime by commentator Paul Harvey and articles in Reader’s Digest and Texas Monthly.
Sometimes the spirit seeks rest. Who would expect a band director to become a farmer? Jeff quite frequently does the unexpected. But while farming in Plainview, he also directed bands at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview and at Monterrey High School in Lubbock.
Finally, in 1983 the pull of the blue and orange of San Angelo Central High School was too great. The band was invited to march in the King Kamehameha Day Parade in Honolulu, Hawaii. With the successful band leadership from former student and all-stater Jennifer Brinson Korak and others, the San Angelo Central High School band won first place in the five-mile parade, marching thirty yards from the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean.
A successful trip to Hawaii encouraged the Andrews school administration to invite Jeff to be band director at Andrews High School. The trio of band directors – Jeff, Jim Harvey, and Ken Ward – worked diligently to assure the success of Andrews bands and great students such as Jeff Whitaker and Kevin Leonard. At this point, Jeff’s older daughter, Elizabeth became a part of his musical group. Trips to Hawaii, St. Louis, Atlanta, Florida, Corpus Christi, and Colorado kept life moving. Jeff remembers the day Elizabeth came bursting into a local restaurant, during school lunch, waving a letter confirming she had made TMEA All-State Orchestra on oboe. How proud was her dad! Andrews presented a second opportunity of another kind. Still not in politics at the time, former President George W. Bush came to the football game between Andrews and Midland High School. He and his buddies requested entrance at the band gate to the stadium, but Jeff had to turn them down. Very few people have the opportunity to say no to a future president.
Family called again in 1996 when Jeff and his immediate family moved to Amarillo to be closer to ill parents. There he renewed connections with Dr. Gary Garner and served stints at Randall High School (where second daughter Marci became one of his band students), Tarpley Music Company, and Bowie Middle School. During this time, his second daughter, Marci, received the honor of making the TMEA All-State Band, also on oboe. Two out of two. What are the odds of two adopted daughters, nine years apart in age yet born in the same hospital, making all-state on oboe?
The final act of Jeff’s musical career was his directorship at Palo Duro High School from 2000 through 2013. During this tenure, he received extensive support from Cody Myers. There was a special affinity between Jeff and his committed students at Palo Duro such as Andrea Noel and other dedicated band students. Maybe that was why he was known as the pied piper of Palo Duro in Accent West, a local Amarillo magazine. How many band directors are able to encourage students who never knew they could excel in music, to go to college and change the direction of their lives? Students who had never been out of Amarillo traveled to Florida, Atlanta, California, Missouri, Colorado, and Hawaii. They had the honor of performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. and performed on the deck of the USS Midway in San Diego, California. A highlight of the Palo Duro years was in 2008 when the combined bands of Jeff and older daughter, Elizabeth Kaloi, then band director at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, presented a combined concert on the fantail of the USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Jeff went back to Hawaii with the Palo Duro band in 2013 at which time he had the honor of conducting a piece simultaneously with daughters Elizabeth and Marci.
Before Jeff retired, he counted sixty-four former students (that he knows of) that are or have been band directors, including daughters—Elizabeth Kaloi at Lady Bird Johnson Middle School in Irving, Texas, and Marci Criswell at River Road High School in Amarillo, Texas. Currently two of his four grandchildren are in band, but only because the other two are not old enough yet. Jeff claims the younger two do not have a choice. What a life!
Jeff would like to offer special thanks to former band boosters, mentors, peers, private oboe teachers Dr. Robert Krause and Dr. Doris Deloach, friends, and especially the students who made up the bands, earned the awards and played the solos at festivals or competitions across the United States and overseas. All have made this musical life astronomical!
Jeff is particularly grateful to his fabulous wife of fifty-one years, Wanda, who is always by his side, encouraging and inspiring him to achieve greater things than he ever could imagine.