"A Salute to Richard Wellock"

NOTES DA CAPO - By John Puffenbarger
February, 1993

Richard Wellock may be retired, but he is still very much involved with music. Recently he finished a piano suite on which he has been working since his retirement in 1978. He has composed twenty-nine compositions for choir, band, piano, voice, handbells, and numerous other combinations, and he has several more in progress, including a major piece for piano and orchestra. Several of his compositions have been published, and most have been performed.

Last year he was invited to be the key-note speaker for the WVMEA County Music Directors fall conference. He displayed his love of music through an inspiring talk. Enthusiastic as always, he told of his long career with music education.

Wellock served as WVMEA president from 1957-58, and was president of the W.Va. College music Educators from 1961-62. As the first chairman of the Fine Art Division at Fairmont State College, he has had the opportunity to watch the college grow.

Born in Enid, Oklahoma, on 14 September 1917, he attended public schools in Springfield, Missouri. Encouragement at home played a major role in his introduction to music. Wellock comments, "My father was a fine musician and my sister was a professional singer in New York during the 1940s and 1950s. I had excellent training in my youth. The city I grew up in had an excellent music program, and I had some very good teachers. My grandmother taught me piano, and then I started practicing the trumpet. I was trained in classical music and played trumpet in my high school band and orchestra. I won first-place trumpet at the Missouri state and at the Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri Tri-State Music Festivals."

Wellock studied trumpet with Winston Lyons at Southwest Missouri State College from 1928-1938 and with Joseph Gustat, principal trumpet of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, from 1933-1944. He studied composition with Will James, nationally known choral composer of Springfield, Missouri; Dr. T. Stanley Skinner at Drury College; and Thomas Canning at West Virginia University. he received a B.S. degree in music education, trumpet, and voice from Southwest Missouri in 1942. He played third to principal trumpet in the Springfield, Missouri Orchestra from 1936-1941. Wellock played in the U.S. Air Force Band, Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. from 1942-1946. He had short tours of duty in Goose Bay, Labrador, and Miami Beach, and was discharged from Greensboro, North Carolina, in February 1946.

He says, "I first came to West Virginia for the first time because of my first wife. We met at a choral workshop in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, in 1940." Hortense Martin was from Athens, West Virginia, and was a music teacher at Oakvale High School. They were married in 1943, and their son, Rick, was born in 1947. Hortense died of cancer in 1959; Rick lives with his wife Dorothy and their two children, Amy and Reid, in Ligonier, Pennsylvania.

Having been the supervisor of music in the Ozark, Missouri, public school, Wellock became involved in many areas of music when he moved to West Virginia.

(To be continued.)