Band directors due for reunion

Above (L-R), Bill Grusendorf, Don Thoede and Jim Perry (L) will attend Aug. 14 Big Blue Band reunion at The Ranch in Rockdale. Above (L-R), Bill Grusendorf, Don Thoede and Jim Perry (L) will attend Aug. 14 Big Blue Band reunion at The Ranch in Rockdale. What is already shaping up to be a giant-sized reunion of former Rockdale High School Big Blue Band members, featuring three legendary former directors, is planned for Saturday, Aug. 14, in Rockdale.

Bill Grusendorf, Don Thoede and Jim Perry, directors between 1958 and 1985, have all confirmed they will be at The Ranch for the event, which is scheduled for 2 to 6 p.m.

“This all started on a Facebook page where many of the former Big Blue Band members started talking,” Perry told The Reporter.

“It just took off by itself. Enthusiasm is very high among many former members,” he said.

“It would be nice if people would bring their photos and recordings of the bands, especially from the Grusendorf era,” Perry said. “I have everything prett y much from mine and Don’s years.”

At 6 p.m., after the reunion, Gaylen Strelsky Hromcik has arranged for a tour of the new high school band hall for those former band members who have not seen the new facility.

“Everyone is on their own for dinner, and I assume people will be going out together in groups or eating there at The Ranch, then we will go back there and mix with the general public for the rest of the evening,” Perry said.

“I want to emphasize this event is not exclusive to those who were in the program from 1958-85,” Perry said. “It’s for all former RHS band members, and well wishers, from any era.”

Grusendorf directed the Big Blue Band from 1958-72, Thoede from 1972-81 and Perry from 1981-85.

Thoede was an assistant director under Grusendorf and Perry was an assistant director under Thoede.

The three presided over what is considered the “golden age” of the Big Blue Band program. Grusendorf fielded RHS’ first 100-piece marching band.

It grew to more than 140 during the 1958-72 era and produced UIL contest awards consistently, including the UIL’s coveted “Sweepstakes” award which covers marching, solo and ensemble and concert competitions.

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