birthday wish brings former drum major back to QHS | Music

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QUINCY – Jack Cox probably could have done anything or gone anywhere to celebrate his 70th birthday.

But what he wanted most was to play with his high school band once again.

His wish came true on Friday as he played his clarinet to the familiar “Stand Up and Cheer” tunes with the Quincy High School Marching Band.

“Suddenly I was 18 again,” Cox said.

The celebration continues today as Cox is the Grand Marshal of the Octoberfest Parade, leading the group down Maine Street, much as he did as the QHS Drum Major in the 1968 school year- 69.

“There are nights I wake up and hear the old band, the drums,” Cox said. “I had to come back. “

It was a homecoming for Cox, who now lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and an opportunity for today’s students to better appreciate the band’s legacy.

Cox and band manager Matt Gabriel had emailed a few years ago about the band’s history. This time, Cox’s wife Nancy reached out to Gabriel to see if the music department could “shake things up” with his birthday wish.

“It turned out that Octoberfest fit their schedule, and he turned into Grand Marshal,” Gabriel said. “It’s a great time as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the music department to see the passion people still have for our program.”

Cox spoke with the students of the group about following in his father’s footsteps, who walked with the group under Paul Morrison, and the importance of getting it right while remembering what others may have. a little bigger perspective “to share” that will make you do that much better.

Next, Cox asked to lead the group in the school song once more before making a presentation to Drum Major Courtney Johnson – a stick engraved with his name, as was done in 1969, to be passed on to the next drum major.

“It is a sign of recognition of excellence in leadership. I wanted to give that back to him, ”Cox said.

“I was really honored that he did that,” Johnson said. “It really shows how our tradition, the family this group creates, has lasted a lifetime. Even at 70, you can still love this band. “

After graduating from QHS, Cox went to Purdue University to study engineering, while serving as principal alto saxophonist with the university’s symphony orchestra, and a career working to create ribs resistant to stress. effects of climate change.

Cox is now a Partner and Chief Coastal Engineer for Edgewater Resources, solving problems occurring at the water’s edge with projects across the United States and as far as Peru, Cyprus, China, Australia, New Zealand and the High Arctic.

“I’ve been to a few places, I’ve done a few things,” Cox said.

An Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin, he also teaches at Purdue and the US Naval Academy while serving as President of the Academy of Coastal, Ocean, Port and Navigation Engineers and as Commissioner of the Permanent International Association of navigation congress.

“People are worried that Quincy is a small town, but there are few places in the country that I have been to where you don’t meet someone who has a connection to Quincy. It’s an amazing community that expands, ”said Cox. “This city, and especially this group, have done amazing things for the world.”

Gabriel hopes Cox will be an inspiration to the group, both in his professional achievements and his love of music.

“When you’re 70, you can still play your instrument, play ‘Stand Up and Cheer’,” said Gabriel. “The purpose of what we do is to develop a lifelong appreciation of music.”


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