Alumni Spotlight: Jerry Hoover '58

It was love at first note for Jerry Hoover when he picked up a clarinet at the age of twelve. Little did he know that he would eventually become a nationally-celebrated band director. Sharing his passion for music, Jerry has impacted the lives of thousands of students.

After graduating high school, Jerry did not know what he wanted to pursue in secondary education. While working for a lawn mowing and manufacturing company in Lamar, Missouri, he was recruited by A. A. Rockwell, Drury University’s band director. Jerry received a music scholarship from Drury, where he learned to turn his passion for music into a career.

His Drury Experience

Once at Drury, Hoover was involved in every music ensemble Drury had to offer at the time and a member of Lambda Chi Alpha. He formed lifelong relationships with his music professors, specifically Rockwell. “I had a good relationship with Mr. Rockwell. I think he took an interest in me, and we stayed in touch until he passed away.” Rockwell played with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra in the 1920s, and Jerry was fascinated by his experiences. Taking his students on tour and to workshops at local high schools, Rockwell prepared Jerry for a career in music education. In 1958, Hoover graduated with a Bachelor of Music Education degree.

Drury brought Hoover the two loves of his life – music and Betty Bradford. Betty graduated in 1955 and was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha. After curfew, Jerry used to throw milkshakes up to Betty’s dorm room window. Now, they will celebrate their 60 year anniversary in August with their sons Doug, David, and Chris.

The Music Man

After graduation, Jerry became the band director in Cabool, Missouri. After starting the school’s jazz and marching bands, Jerry went on to teach in Lebanon, Missouri until 1969. At Lebanon High School, he took his students to perform at the Music Educators National Conference and the Indianapolis 500. Jerry received the “Wall of Honor” achievement from the Lebanon School District.

From Lebanon, Jerry moved to Jefferson City, where he led his school bands to performances at the Tournament of Roses in California and the Parade of States in Washington D.C.

He developed excellent concert, marching, and jazz bands during his 20 years in public schools. These bands received international recognition and were chosen to be Missouri’s “Official State Representative” for President Nixon’s Inaugural Parade.

In 1978, Jerry took his skills to New Mexico State University. Here he earned the International Lions “Melvin Jones Fellow Award,” an honor only one hundred others have received. In 1985, the New Mexico governor, Toney Anaya, declared “Jerry Hoover Day” for his outstanding work with the bands. Jerry came back to Springfield to be Missouri State University’s band director, and 16 of his students from New Mexico followed him to the Ozarks.  

Upon arriving at Missouri State University, Jerry discovered that the Pride Bands did not have a building for rehearsals and storage. With some creativity and determination, Jerry helped fundraise for a new band hall. Jerry directed the symphonic band, pride marching band, entertainment ensembles, two basketball bands, and four jazz bands. The Pride Bands soared during Jerry’s 31 years of leadership. They have performed in a variety of venues such as London, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and several NFL games.

Immerse yourself in the music

Jerry has received many awards over his career including a "Citation of Excellence" from the National Bandmasters Association and a personal Letter of Commendation from President Ronald Reagan. For his incredible work with bands across the country, Jerry was inducted into the Missouri Educators and the Missouri Bandmasters Association’s Hall of Fame. To future music educators Jerry says this: “Ours is a great and close-knit profession. Immerse yourself in it.”

Today, Drury’s music department provides outstanding educational and performance programs and its invested faculty continue to provide invaluable student experiences that challenge, educate, and inspire students and their audiences.

Please consider giving to the Drury Music Department's Friends of Music Fund. Your gift will provide invaluable support for the music department.