Russell Boone, a former band director at Mississippi Valley State University, was known as a disciplinarian who influenced scores of other directors throughout the Delta while also elevating Valley’s band, according to former colleagues and family.
Mr. Boone died Friday in Maryland Heights, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. He was 99.
From 1960 to 1972, Mr. Boone served as MVSU’s band director. He then served as chair of the Fine Arts Department until 1981, when he returned to teaching fulltime. He retired from Valley in 1987.
Mr. Boone grew up in the St. Louis area. He studied at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, until his education was interrupted by World War II, and he was recruited as a musician. He was stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, where he was the drum major for numerous parades and military ceremonies.
After his discharge from the U.S. Navy in 1946, he completed his bachelor’s degree in music education in 1949 at Lincoln University and then received his master’s degree in music education from the University of Missouri in 1958.
In 1960, Mr. Boone was recruited by Dr. James Herbert White, MVSU’s first president, to lead the band.
Dr. Lawrence Goldman, a MVSU music professor, said Mr. Boone put Valley’s music program “on the map.”
Under Mr. Boone, MVSU in 1965 became the first band from a historically Black college or university to be invited to participate in the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California. MVSU’s band was again invited in 1968.
Goldman, who was hired by Mr. Boone, said the former band director “established quite a record” and “made the music program thrive.”
Kenneth Milton, who retired as the university’s band director last year, said that he knew of Mr. Boone while Milton was a student at Jackson State University.
Milton, who arrived at MVSU in 1991, said Mr. Boone took him under his wing to show him how to run the band program. “He was definitely a disciplinarian who didn’t settle for anything but the best,” Milton said.
He added that Mr. Boone’s influence was seen through his former students who became band directors at schools throughout the Delta.
Alphonso Sanders, a former chair of MVSU’s Fine Arts Department who is now provost and vice president for academic affairs at Lincoln University, said Mr. Boone “was an extraordinary teacher.”
“His influence to me was in the seriousness of music skills as well as his teaching,” Sanders said.
Mr. Boone’s daughter, Dr. Patreece Broadus of St. Louis, said he “was always a very loving and caring father” who taught her leadership skills and provided her with a good spiritual background.
Just as some parents are proud of their children, Dr. Broadus said she was proud of her father.
“Not only was I proud of his accomplishments, I was proud of his character, his leadership and also just who he was,” she said, adding that she developed her ethics and core values from him.
A street on the MVSU campus is named for Mr. Boone.
He is survived by one other child, Russell Boone Jr. of Fort Valley, Georgia; a granddaughter, Patricha Broadus; and other relatives throughout the Midwest and the South.
• Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or firstname.lastname@example.org.