Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Features

August 23, 2011

EC Band only part of director’s legacy

Noteworthy Neighbor

Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — Each community in Garvin County has individuals who have left an impression in those areas over the years, but for a select few, the impact isn't simply limited to one town or another.

Then again, there's not too many individuals like Jim Winkle, director of the Elmore City Badger Pride Band, who has not only brought notoriety to students he's taught, but become one of the most respected in the region. This includes his current 10th year at the Elmore City school system and 25 years leading the Pauls Valley Panthers before that.

Except for a few years of retirement between 1995-2001, Winkle has been helping students march to success in Garvin County since 1969. In both jobs from the one in Pauls Valley, which lasted until 1994, to the current, he's been able to see plenty of young minds all start off rough and seen the polished results carry well into adulthood.

“I don't do it for the pay, I do it because I love it,” said Winkle, who said he came out of retirement because he could not keep himself away. “I'm really lucky because there's not many people who go this long in a career and still love it.”

Winkle is originally from Holdenville and was a trombone player when he decided he wanted to do some kind of music for the long term. He teaches all grades through seniors in high school, starting with fifth graders, the age he started playing, and he loves to pass along how much dedication it will take.

Some of the notoriety for his students includes coming away scoring big at all levels of competition to making performance trips to places like the Alamo Bowl and Washington D.C. One such trip is coming up once again for students and they will able, with some fundraising support, march next year in the Memorial Day parade at the nation's capitol.

Winkle's work over the years has also brought himself quite a bit of attention like being inducted into the Oklahoma Band Master Hall of Fame in July. However, he said his wife Carolyn is just as much to thank as anyone through her support with some of his classroom work and coordinating color guard practices.

It all takes on even more meaning when Winkle notes how he actually had planned to be an administrator after he had earned his masters in the area at Oklahoma University. Both of these two jobs he's had over most of his career were at first only supposed to be temporary, growing into something much involved later.

“Everything has a hall of fame, but when it's your profession, it's really special,” said Winkle. “To be put in the hall with those we considered giants of the business is humbling.”

The thing Winkle enjoys the most about his profession is being able to see how well the skills he passes on carry on for so many young minds, whether it be for fun or even seeing some now play for college bands, and hearing those compliments from them. One of his fondest memories is from student teaching Orchestra and being able to play with the students as they learned.

For now Winkle plans to take things a year at a time and while he does not care for the term retirement, he will only teach as long as he feels productive with his students. In any case, he will remain involved somehow with music, even if it is in a support role like judging contests through his membership in the Oklahoma Music Adjudicators Association.

Whatever the future holds for Winkle, he plans to stay put near Pauls Valley where he has called home throughout all of the good times. He feels blessed for the opportunities and despite any strict attitude on the surface, cannot hide how much he cares for each child who comes his way.

“I built my house out west of town and that's where I intend to stay,” said Winkle, who earned his undergrad at Oklahoma State University. “Lord willing I'll be there until he comes to get me.”

Those who wish to give to the EC Band through fundraising efforts cam call Band Booster President Steven Combes at 580-788-2759 or the high school at 580-788-2565.

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