Raymond Thomas was inducted into the National Association of Military Marching Bands at the NAMMB marching contest at Stephen F. Austin on Saturday, Nov. 2.
Thomas graduated from Mexia High School in 1959. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in 1964 from Stephen F. Austin University and his Master’s Degree from the University of Texas at Tyler in 1977.
Thomas started band in the fourth grade in McCamey, Texas. He was always interested in band and sports, but band was his first love. When his family moved from McCamey back to Mexia, Thomas was in the fifth grade, but was allowed to play in the Junior High Band because band did not start until the sixth grade in Mexia. He marched and played in the high school band as a seventh grader. He was also presented the Outstanding Athlete Award at Mexia High School by the coaches and set the district record in the low hurdles. Mr. Joe Tom Haney was the Mexia High School band director and featured Thomas many times as the soloist. Thomas. formed the “Flames of Dixieland” Band. They won several talent shows. Later Thomas played with Mr. Haney in a dance band called “The Corsicans” and earned enough money to buy a new trumpet. He played “Taps” with the National Guard at military funerals as well.
Thomas’s teaching experience included Diboll for one year, New Diana for one year, Timpson for one year, Jacksonville Junior High for six years, Whitehouse, South Park High School in Beaumont, Crosby, Pine Tree Junior High Gold Band, and Carthage.
Thomas takes pride in all of his 19 years of teaching, but especially the following schools:
- Jacksonville Junior High – they made the first first division in the history of the school and followed with five sweepstakes.
- Whitehouse – they made the first sweepstakes in the history of the school.
- Carthage – they made the first sweepstakes in 26 years and followed with a total of 4 more before he changed careers. Carthage represented Texas at the Four States Music Convention. Carthage band won outstanding band in class at the NAMMB contest at Texas A&M University in 1991.
Thomas’s bands won twelve UIL Sweepstakes awards and was the Outstanding Band in class at the Tri-State Marching Contest in Enid, Oklahoma.
Several of his former band students have gone on the become band directors or were involved in some way in music education. Some have even retired.
He was the region chairman of the UIL Region XX1 Music activities for two years. He was an adjudicator in instrumental, voice, piano, string and band competitions. He was also an instructor at several university summer band camps
His students received many individual awards in regional and state solo-ensemble contest and won positions in the All District, All Region, and All State Band. He had two students who were chosen first chair in the All State Band.
Thomas is a member of the prestigious Phi Beta Mu Band Fraternity, and he proudly wears his Phi Beta Mu pin to all band events.
Thomas was a founding (charter) member of – National Association of Military Marching Bands (NAMMB). Eleven East Texas band directors gathered at the home of retired SFA director, Jimmy Hudgins in the summer of 1979 to discuss the future of “military style” marching. They took action to preserve the military style by forming the National Association of Military Marching Bands.
In 2015, Thomas was installed in the Carthage Bulldog Alumni Hall of Honor. Also in 2015, he was recognized for his service as Carthage ISD Director of Bands. A march was written by Dr. Timothy Rhea, and “Thomas Triumphal” was premiered on May 28, 2015, at a band concert.
Thomas’s former band students surprised him with a band reunion on October 27, 2018. Many of his former Carthage band students attended. This was also a huge honor for him.