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Beloved band director Jack White honored with room dedication

Jack O. White, who taught at Elon from 1962 to 1986, was honored during an Oct. 20 ceremony for his contributions to the Department of Music.

Ray Beck '75 and Dr. Barry Simmons Sr. '73 led the effort to name the ensemble room in honor of Jack White.


Elon College and University band alums gathered during Homecoming weekend to dedicate the bands' current facility in the Center for the Arts in honor of master educator, musician, showman, teacher and mentor, Jack O. White.

During the dedication, two of White's former students, Ray Beck '75 and Dr. Barry Simmons Sr. '73, spoke about White's passion for music, his legendary conducting skills and his impact on their lives. Beck and Simmons led the fund drive to name the ensemble room in White's honor.

"A giant once walked this campus - Dr. Jack Okey White," Beck said in his remarks.

President Emeritus J. Earl Danieley shared memories of the man known for his energy and enthusiasm and recalled his decision to hire White as a smart move.

President Leo M. Lambert unveiled a photo montage honoring White that will hang in the ensemble room. Two current students who are drum majors in the Fire of the Carolinas Marching Band, Nathanial Hodges '13 and Alexis Stones '14, thanked the alumni for their work and contributions to Elon's music program.

Jack Okey White, Elon Director of Bands, 1962-1986

Lambert thanked the alumni for their work in honoring White. "There is no higher praise for a teacher than to hear back from alumni," Lambert said. "Your selflessness and generosity means so much to this institution."

White joined the Elon College music faculty in 1962. Under his baton "The Showband of the Carolinas" became known for its creative and entertaining football half-time shows. White also organized the internationally known Emanons jazz ensemble, which completed 23 tours under his direction.

He was recognized as Elon's Outstanding Professor in 1968 and upon his retirement in 1986, was named Professor Emeritus of Music. In 1995 he received the prestigious Elon Medallion, and in 2012 he was named Band Director Emeritus.

White earned a bachelor's degree in music education from Concord College, a master's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a doctorate from New York University. Prior to teaching at Elon, White, a West Virginia native, spent 12 years directing high school bands in Wytheville, Va., and Cary, N.C.

President Leo M. Lambert unveils the photo display that will hand on the wall in the ensemble room.

Throughout his career, White arranged music for numerous musical groups and was in demand as an adjudicator and clinician, judging marching bands and music festivals throughout the Southeast. He was a member of the College Band Directors Association, the National Band Association, and the American Federation of Musicians, New York City, Local 802. Well known in the music world, White was acquainted with industry giants including Vincent Bach, Maynard Ferguson, Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, and Doc Severinsen.

Two sons, Jon and Reginald, studied at Elon College. Jon '72 played with the Emanons and the marching band. Reggie '77 was a member of the football team.

Following his retirement from Elon, White returned to Virginia and joined the Wytheville Community College faculty. He founded and conducted the community college's concert band, stepping down after 10 years as its director. Until recently he played lead trumpet with the band. White and his wife Jo Ann continue to reside in Wytheville.

Keren Rivas,
12/12/2012 1:13 PM