I am often asked where I call home. After living in a half dozen states, attending school in twice as many, and being active duty military in four countries, I’m never sure how to answer. After retiring from the Marine Corps in 1994, I returned to South Carolina which I have called home for nearly half my life, so for better or for worse, I guess it has to claim me.
It is interesting that my early love of music influenced the major direction of my life. I think it began with my grandmother who was a nurse during the day and a piano player at night in a very active dance band. While still a child, a cousin of my father’s, and my band director at the time, had a significant influence in the musical direction of my life. My interest in tools came from my grandfather who left Arkansas at the age of 14 and worked his way to Kansas where he married and raised four daughters during the Depression years. Together, these elements laid the groundwork for what would be my future career.
College was not a good fit for me and after an interesting confrontation with my father, I found myself in the Marine Corps where I stayed for over 20 years. Music again played a major role in determining my life course. While in the Corps, I graduated from the Navy School of Music, served in three field bands, and in 1976 found myself touring with the Bicentennial Military Band, bouncing repeatedly from east to west coast.
In 1977, I was one of two Marines selected to be the first to attend an extended civilian training course in the manufacturing/retrofitting and repair of music instruments at a school operated by one of the country’s premier instrument manufacturers, Getzen Corporation in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. I perfected my trade servicing Marine field bands and working for a time on some of the instruments for the President’s Own, America’s oldest continuously active professional musical organization, in Washington, DC, and the Commandant’s Own, the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corp.
It was happenstance that created the opportunity to combine my love of music, musical instruments, and my refined skills with tools to start me down the path where I am today. While stationed in Okinawa, Japan with the 3rd Marine Division Band, I found myself stranded in my shop during a typhoon without anything to read. I began to see what I could piece together out of scrap and excess parts. I came up with several lamps that didn’t look too bad. Over the years, I expanded the idea to more complex lamps, then music boxes, and then pure sculpture.
The urge to create combines with a reverence for musical instruments, and the desire to preserve whatever life remains in the parts and pieces of an instrument. As a professional musician and a master technician in the repair of brass and woodwind instruments, I have spent much of my life devoted to extending their lives. Now, when the parts and pieces or whole instruments are no longer in a state that makes sense to repair them, I find myself giving them new life in a form that celebrates their previous existence, saving them from being discarded completely.
The repair of brass and woodwind instruments and consulting in this field has been my career since leaving the Marine Corp. I also remain active as a musician, playing every opportunity I get. My creative endeavors have expanded that world to include galleries and art exhibits, places I never expected to be. I have been greatly encouraged by the public’s response to my pieces. I’m not sure where this road will take me but so far the people I’ve met along the way have become an extremely important part of my life.
For more information, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 843-665-6115.