Alumni share their band memories

Robert Warner ’63 was a member of both the Marching Band and Concert Band in his years at OWU, and he witnessed the dwindling numbers that led to the program’s suspension.

“The University did not have a director for the Marching Band, so they hired a guy from a school district south of the city (to serve as its director) its final year,” he said from his home in North Carolina.

The 1961-62 academic year, when Warner was a junior, was the last for the old Marching Bishops, “I served as the announcer in the press box,” in the fall of 1961, Warner recalls. “They delivered a fairly simple show during halftime, but it contributed to the game.”

Though a physics major, he always was active in music and drama. A sousaphone player in high school, he took up percussion instruments at OWU – because the band already had sousaphone players. The marching band probably had 25 to 30 members that final year, he said. The pep band was dependable for basketball games – weather permitting. He fondly recalls an away basketball game when a snowstorm struck and the snare drummer didn’t show up. Warner called him, “and he indicated with some insistence that he was not going out in that snowstorm” to play at that game.

Robert Imes ’64 also marched in the band’s final year. He went on to direct the Pep Band his senior year. “I grew up with music, really. I started playing trombone in second grade (and continued) through college.”

“The marching band is a necessary part of the pageantry of the football experience,” Imes says. After OWU, he attended Northwestern University for graduate studies. There he found that – shortly after Notre Dame hired away NU’s football coach, Ara Parseghian – “The band outperformed the football team, by miles. I still harbor ill-feeling toward Notre Dame” over the Parseghian hire, he says with a laugh.

Now a longtime Indiana resident, Imes grew up in Rochester, New York. Famed trumpeter, flugelhorn player and composer Chuck Mangione attended the same high school there, two classes behind him. Post-college life, Imes switched to vocal music and has been involved with church and community choirs ever since. This summer, in honor of their 50th anniversary, he and his wife joined a 200-voice choir in Kentucky, and journeyed with it to perform in a July Fourth concert in the famed Ely Cathedral in Oxford, England. He said he’s pleased to see the marching band reintroduced at OWU and he believes participating will enhance the new Marching Bishops’ lives, as it did his.

“It’s something outside your normal academic experience. You meet people you normally wouldn’t, especially when you’re academically insulated. It broadens the scope of what you deal with,” Imes says.

John Mason ’63, a sociology anthropology major, also was a member of the last hurrah of the Marching Bishops, as well as Orchestra at OWU. He played trumpet, using a small music scholarship from Clarkston High School outside New York City to purchase his instrument.

He remembers those days that preceded his career as an anthropologist, leaving the country shortly after school for long stretches in the Middle East. The Silver Springs, Maryland, resident recalls: “I just remember it being a lot of fun. I guess we blew our lungs out whenever they scored. I remember those warm autumn days when we were heavily clothed in the band uniforms.”

Return to the Winter 2019 OWU Magazine