Republic Music

The music department for the Republic Schools started in the school year of 1936-1937, under the direction of Ellis M. “Bud” Thurman.

When people in Republic wanted to get a band program started, there was no money for a band Director.  Four Republic businessmen took $20.00 a month out of their own pockets to hire Bud Thurman to start a band program.  He wasn’t yet a certified teacher, but this didn’t matter at this time since private funds were used.  To the best of our knowledge the four men were:  Dr. Brim, local dentist, Harry Siceluff, Judd Alderman, local depot agent and  Harold Owen.

Ellis “Bud” Thurman (1904-1963)

Ellis (Bud) Thurman was a leader in establishing and promoting musical programs in Republic for a good part of his life.  Born February 1904, he took up the trumpet in high school and continued during his years at (what is now) MSU, until he had an opportunity to tour with a band which was part of the Pantages Vaudeville circuit. Later he organized his own dance band, which he called Buddy’s Whizbangers.  Doris Lee was a sax player- he later married Irene Beal.  John Langsford also played sax.  He was a tall fellow who later played in Joe Haymes’ orchestra (Robert and Dorothy Thurman have an old set of LPs of this band from 1932-37).  They had a female trumpet player named Jimmie (Youngblood) Nance, who was married to Roy Nance.  Frank “Shrimp” Bennett, local barber, played the banjo.  The pianist was Wilma Russell, who married Harold Owen and later played piano and organ at Hood Methodist Church for years and years.  (Note: The Joe Haymes Orchestra is said to have evolved into the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra).

The Whizbangers played for dances in surrounding towns, even traveling into Arkansas.  This experience led Bud to organize a community band in Republic, and it was for this band that the bandstand was built.  It stood on a lot across the street from the Hood Methodist Church, and benches were provided for the audience to sit on.  However, a good part of the audience parked head-in around the lot and listened from their cars, honking to signify their applause after each band number.

Bud was asked to begin teaching music in the high school at some point, probably in the late 1930s.  He taught there for the next 18 years, establishing the Republic Music Program as a very strong and well-respected one.  Not only did he lead the band and chorus but he gave individual music lessons to many students, usually for free. He also established a beginners’ band in the grade school.  Republic music students were regularly very successful at the annual spring music competitions, bringing home more than their share of excellent and very good ratings.  During his tenure the band acquired their first set of uniforms.  Bud achieved this by calling on local business leaders, who sort of challenged one another to donate to help the band.

In the 1952-1953 school year Bud reluctantly left Republic to take a position in the Springfield school system.  Just before his departure the Republic Band had been chosen to perform at the Southwestern Music Educators Conference, an organization that encompassed seven states.  This honor was so great that he refused to announce the news to the band, instead calling on the Superintendent, C.K. Leonard, to come to band rehearsal and share the news.  Bud was a very modest man, but very well loved and respected.

 

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