A Salute to Richard Wellock (Part II)

NOTES DA CAPO - By John Puffenbarger
March 1993

When Richard Wellock arrived in Bluefield in 1946 there were only fifteen in the high school hand. The band program was in poor condition because of an inadequate elementary program. Wellock began to develop musicianship tests which included scales, technique, arranging, and conducting, and by 1953 approximately four hundred students were in the total music program.

When Wellock became Mercer County music supervisor in 1953, he was concerned about the lack of general music in the schools. He began work on a comprehensive music program and completed an eight-year plan for the countv in just five years. The music staff grew from thirteen to thirty-five teachers. and a county budget of $15,000 was added.

In addition to his music supervisory duties, Wellock served as WVMEA president from 1957-59, and as president of the College Music Educators in 1961-62. During, his term as WVMEA President he met with Rex Smith, West Virginia Assistant Superintendent of Schools, and learned that the State Department of Education was considering adding a supervisor position. but the specialization had not been determined. Wellock wrote a job description for the position of state music supervisor and presented it to the state superintendent. Consequently, the position of State Music Consultant was created. Dr. Myllan Smyers was the first person to hold this position. He was presented to the WVMEA membership at the Conference in Charleston in March 1958.

After Wellock's first wife Hortense Martin died of cancer in 1959, he moved to Fairmont. In the fall of 1960 he became chair of the music department at Fairmont State College, beginning his career at the college in the music wing of the administration building. "Those were wonderful years." Wellock said. "I saw the music department grow. We moved into a new fine arts building, which gave us an opportunity to expand our program." In 1966 he became the first chair of the Fine Arts Department. He developed a program for the music department, and by 1969 it was the second largest among state colleges. More teachers were added to the faculty, and the student population crew to ninety-three music majors and forty minors.

Wellock stopped playing the trumpet in 1950 because of an inner ear infection. He stated. "I played my master's recital in 1950 and, in fact, that was the last time I technically played the trumpet. But I still play the piano and sing. And I have had an opportunity to conduct band and choral festivals, and teacher workshops on boys' and girls' changing voices." He also has served as an adjudicator at many band festivals.

He has been as busy in retirement as when he was working professionally. "Retirement has given me a chance to continue to work in my church as the hand bell director." he said. "I have had the opportunity to work on my own compositions. I have had three of my compositions performed in Washington, New York, different places in the Midwest, and at Fairmont State College. My favorite composition is the anthem I wrote for the church called 'Come, Ye Christian Pilgrims.'"

In 1962 Wellock married Virginia Holden Palmer, who was an instructor of piano and organ at Fairmont State College. He said, "Mrs. Wellock and I have completed six tours to Europe, one to Israel, and a tramp freighter trip to South America via the Panama Canal, and another tramp freighter trip on the St. Lawrence Seaway to Montreal and on to Tunisia, Egypt, and, Morocco." Wellock said that the reason for the success of his life while living in Fairmont was the unique relationship with his wife. "She has been wonderful." he said. "We will be celebrating our 31st wedding anniversary this year."