"Henry Mayer: Mentor To Young Band Directors"

NOTES DA CAPO - By John Puffenbarger
October, 1996

Henry A. Mayer always enjoyed introducing young band directors to the world of music education. Each year he and his wife, Lou, took several directors to the Mid-East Instrumental Music Conference in Pittsburgh. Later they would invite others to the MidWest Conference in Chicago.

Known as "Hank" to his friends, Mayer enjoyed the company of musicians. He was a good organizer, and the Clarksburg Area 11 Band Festival always ran smoothly. Hank's trademark was the bow tie he always wore. Born on 8 January 1911 at Salem, West Virginia, he graduated from Salem High School, Salem College, and did graduate study at the University of Michigan, Ohio State University, and West Virginia University.

Hank started his teaching career in 1932-33 in the Monroe Public Schools. He moved back to Harrison county in 1932, teaching strings at Shinnston High School. From 1940-1961 he taught band at Clarksburg's Washington Irving High School and Central Junior High.

He always liked to begin a concert on time. Sometimes his band would start playing a march with the curtain drawn. After the first few measures he would signal the stagehand to open the curtain. Hank liked a certain amount of showmanship.

During pre-game at Hite Field in Clarksburg, Hank would march his band single file down the slope to the field, where they would line up in a block formation and on the whistle from the drum major march down the field playing the Washington Irving fight song. It made quite an impressive entrance.

Hank Mayer always had a story to tell. One tale he told was that once while attending the Mid-East Conference in Pittsburgh, he started to drive through a red light at an intersection on Sixth Street. A policeman stopped him and shouted words that one should not use in mixed company. Hank then said to the policeman, "My good man, I'll have you know that I am a man of the cloth, and I would rather that you not talk that way in front of my parishioners." "Oh, I'm sorry, father," said the policeman; "You go right ahead."

Mayer served on numerous boards and committees of the WVMEA. The fact that his name is listed in the WVMEA minutes year after year indicates how active he was in the organization. He was active in civic and community organizations, as well. He served as president, secretary, and Area 11 Band Festival chair for the Bandmasters Association. He was also president of Tau (West Virginia) chapter of Phi Beta Mu.

Hank married Luellen Johnson of Shinnston. After his death she moved near her son, Henry A. Mayer, Jr. in Lubbock, Texas. A daughter, Mrs. Nancy Lou Capilla, lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Some WVMEA members may not be aware that John Puffenbarger recently retired from teaching in the Upshur County Schools, but continues to serve as WVMEA historian. Please send information concerning music education in West Virginia to him at PO Box 6, Buckhannon 26201).