On March 10, 2017, Texas lost a legendary music educator and master band director, Fred H. Junkin. He began his teaching career in Teague, Texas before taking a position at Tyler Jr. High for the following three years, 1951-1954. His next professional move was to be his last. In 1954, he and his new bride, Don Beth, relocated to Victoria, Texas, where he led the Victoria High School band program for 31 years. In 1974, he was named Supervisor of Music in the Victoria ISD, a post he held concurrently with directing the VHS band.
Fred Junkin was Texan through and through. He was born in Corpus Christi, raised in Kerrville, and graduated from Schreiner Institute High School. Following a stint with the United States Navy during the waning years of World War II, Fred returned to Texas to continue his education at the University of Texas Austin.
Fred Junkin walked like a Texan, talked like a Texan, and had a reputation befitting a Texan. He was very active with the Texas Music Educator's Association (TMEA), especially during the mid-60s when he served on various leadership committees; he was President of TMEA in 1965 and 1966. His place in Texas music education history was secured in 1993 with his induction into the Texas Bandmasters Association Hall of Fame.
Literally thousands of young people passed through the doors of the Victoria High School band hall. They learned not only the ABCs of scales, arpeggios and fingerings, but a host of other life skills which they carried beyond high school into a wide range of careers. If anyone needs a reminder of the value of public education in Texas, they need look no further than Fred H. Junkin.
In 2014, I arranged a video interview session with Mr. Junkin. I asked my former VHS bandmate Alex Garcia, now Chief Meteorologist at KABB-San Antonio, to join me. For over an hour we engaged Fred in conversation, talking of his early career and, of course, his many years service to the young musicians of Victoria. A portion of the video is available on YouTube, with more to come.
On Friday, March 17, on KPAC's Classics a la Carte, I included a short segment about Fred Junkin. By popular demand, this is linked here, including a 1966 recording of "Horkstow Grange" from Percy Grainger's Lincolnshire Posy, played by Mr. Junkin and the Victoria High School Varsity Band. If you have enjoyed learning about Fred Junkin and the impact he had on so many as one of Texas' finest music educators, please take a moment and thank a public school teacher for their dedication and hard work