On January 31, 1944, in the midst of World War II, Jim Hagood was added to the Hagood clan at the old St. David’s Hospital in downtown Austin. He joined his sister Julia Ann and brother John with their mom and dad, Estelle and Garland. The family lived on West Ninth St. in a very small rent house along with Estelle’s mom. Garland had worked for the Lower Colorado River Authority, but he had quit rather than join an illegal wartime wildcat strike. Their mom had taught school prior to their marriage but at the time was a stay-at-home mom. Judy, twelve years old, and John, eight, had been carefully planned four years apart to make college educations possible. Jim’s entry into the world was inconvenient (his mom always called him her post-script baby). Soon after Jim’s birth, his mom went back to school to finish her bachelor’s degree. She needed a job, and the family needed a reliable income. A strong willed, determined woman, she went back to East Texas State Teacher’s College in Commerce, while her mom stayed in Austin to help with the family.
Mr. Hagood soon found work at The University of Texas in the refrigeration shop. He was a UT educated mechanical engineer, but much to his disappointment, he never finished his degree. He was a natural mechanic, able to understand and fix anything mechanical. His passion, however, was music – especially band music. From Cooper, Texas, Mr. Hagood played clarinet in the school band and was in the Longhorn Band at UT. Later he was a proud member of the Ben Hur Shrine Band and the Longhorn Alumni Band. For years, he pulled Big Bertha behind the family’s Studebaker station wagon to UT out-of-town football games.
Jim’s formal band training began in the sixth grade. *LaFalcco “Corkey” Robinson (also from Cooper, TX) was his “itinerant instrumental music teacher” at Brentwood Elementary in North Austin. Jim also started on clarinet, but switched to oboe in the seventh grade at Lamar Junior High. He followed the footsteps of his older brother as a member of the McCallum High School band, where family friend (and member of the Shrine Band) Dr. Frank Phillips was the director.
Not knowing what he wanted to do in life but understanding college was expected, Jim enrolled at Arlington State College where he was in *Jack Mahan’s Rebel Band. Jim loved it, and finally had a chance to march six-to-five. The McCallum band had made “pictures” while taking the smaller 22 ½” stride. His brother was in the Longhorn band when *Vincent R. DiNino came to UT, and introduced the 30” step, company fronts, and circus marches to their half-time shows, and Jim loved how exciting both could be. The reaction at Memorial Stadium was electric! Jim’s scholarly efforts at ASC however were less than stellar, and that spring, he began looking for another school with a music department.
In 1962, Jim came to Nacogdoches and Stephen F. Austin State College and from then on, Jim’s life would be different. *Jimmie Hudgins directed the Lumberjack Band. The band was small (marched in a 6x9 block) but was so much fun. Again using a six-to-five format, the standard musical fare of the marching band included marches like “Battle of the Winds,” “Robinson’s Grand Entry,” “Barnum and Bailey’s Favorite,” “The Melody Shop,” “The Purple Pageant”. . . That small band included future PBM Hall of Fame recipients *Butch and Sammy Almany, *Mike Geddie, *Don Lawler, *Val and Suzi Rose, and **James Snowden. Jim patiently perused an English major - bass clarinet player, who was also directors *Jimmie Hudgins’ and Kenneth Green’s band secretary, and in 1965 Mary Beth agreed to marry him.
Jim’s first teaching job was at Cushing ISD (a Class B high school) for the 1965-66 school year. This was a part-time job while finishing his bachelor’s degree. The band surprised everyone (none more than Jim) when it received a First-Division at the Region UIL Marching Contest, the first UIL Division I rating in the history of the school! That same semester, he did his student teaching at Nacogdoches High School, the one semester that Neil Grant directed the band. Neil moved to White Oak at mid-semester. The Cushing band went on to also make a Division I in concert and a Division II in sight-reading the following spring.
In 1966, Jim joined Neil at White Oak, as his assistant. It was an exciting year as a wonderful sweepstakes band that was also named as the TMEA Class 1A State Honor Band for 1967. That summer, Neil assumed the directorship of the Longview High School band, and Jim and Mary Beth moved to Troup.
Earlier, Neil had built the Troup band into a state power (runner-up Class 1A State Honor Band in 1965) but when Jim took over, he was the fourth director in four years. The band enrollment was about half of what it had been Neil’s last year, but it still had some really dedicated students. The challenge was to maintain traditions while rebuilding the program. Jim’s second and third year, the band made its first second-divisions in seven years at Region UIL Marching Contests. The school had also gone up to Class 2A for a two year assignment. Jim was devastated, but the band kept working, winning its class at the Six-Flags Concert Contest that spring, besting a band that had performed as a State Honor Band at TMEA. The band returned to sweepstakes status for Jim’s last two years at Troup.
Smiley High School (5A) in Houston was Jim’s next stop. This was Jim’s first large school experience since his high school days in Austin. He followed Lowell Clark, who had move to Beaumont. Earning a First Division at marching contest, the band was also a traditional six-to-five band – one of the few of that style Region XIX.
The next summer, Jim took over at Humble High School (4A). He switched the marching band to six-to-five, and entered the band in the Region UIL Marching Contest for the first time in years, receiving a Division I rating. The band went on to earn a UIL Sweepstakes Award that first year. Humble was a rapidly growing area, and the band grew very quickly in size, maturity and level of commitment. The district grew from one 4A campus to two 5A high schools. After seven years, there was an opportunity to return to deep East Texas, and Jim, Mary Beth, Jed, and Julia moved to Nacogdoches.
Jim was the director at Nacogdoches High School for twenty years. A program that had become very successful in class 4A had struggled with the transition to class 5A (then the largest UIL classification). But once a foundation had been established, the band began to grow. Superintendent Dr. Malcom Rector had a vision for the band developing into a contender for a first division in marching in two or three years and a sweepstakes band in four or five years; both goals were realized the first year. The Nacogdoches High School band program soon became the largest and one of the most successful programs in the school.
Jim “retired” in 2000, then taught four more years in Timpson (1) and Center (3). Jim and Mary Beth were on the TBA board from 1990 to 1986, serving as TBA president for the 1995 convention. Jim was an inductee to the SFASU Band Directors Hall of Fame in 1992. He was named as NISD and Nacogdoches County Secondary Teacher of the Year in 2000. And he received a TBA Lifetime Meritorious Achievement Award in 2009. Jim is presently UIL executive secretary of Region XXI UIL Music.
Mary Beth and Jim still live in Nacogdoches. Their son, Jed, continues the family tradition of engineering with Royal Dutch Shell, living in The Woodlands, and their daughter, Julia, in the steps of both of her grandmothers, teaches life-skills in the Cy-Fair District. Jim reflects, “The Texas Bandmasters Hall of Fame is a reflection of years of dedication and hard work from countless band students. I am grateful and humbled to be considered as an example for one of the great traditions of Texas, the Alpha Chapter of Phi Beta Mu, whose high standards for personal, professional and musical integrity have been a constant challenge and inspiration for each of us.”