OHIO VALLEY — Over the weekend, a well-known member of the music community on both sides of “the river” was inducted into the West Virginia Marching Band Directors Hall of Fame.
Gary Stewart was a band director for the Point Pleasant Black Knight Band for 34 years, bringing forth several firsts such as the inaugural Black Knight Revue in 1971 and the band’s first grand champion award at the Black Walnut Festival in 1972.
“He’s a very special man and has touched many lives over the years. A wonderful, caring person and a good Christian man. He helped make the band program what it is today. He started the Black Knight Revue (BKR) and the present band director, Ben Loudin, was one of his students. He’s deserved this for a long time,” said Pam Heib, a past student of Stewart’s. “He did so many things with the band over the years. I was a junior when he first came, the first BKR and my senior year is when he really kicked in gear.”
Stewart retired from Mason County Schools in 2002. Throughout his time as band director, he helped the band receive many grand champion and outstanding show design awards. He is now completing his 18th year as assistant professor of music at the University of Rio Grande. He is the director of instrumental music as well as director of summer band camps. In addition, Stewart has been an adjunct professor at the Marshall University Mid-Ohio Valley Center (MOVC) in Point Pleasant.
Stewart has participated in competition marching band events in West Virginia and all over the Eastern United States throughout his career. His bands have competed in both regional Bands of America events at West Virginia University (WVU) and Grand National Competition at the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, Ind. Other competitions out-of-state included the Southeastern Band Festival in Bristol, Tenn.; the James Madison University Tournament of Bands in Harrisonburg, Va.; the Grand Champion Marching Band at the Mardi Gras Parade in New Orleans, La.; the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn. where the band won in their class; the Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester, Va.;the Cincinnati Reds Marching Band Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio; Nassau Bahamas during the band’s Disney Cruise; and the Polynesian Cultural Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Stewart was inducted by the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History during Saturday’s annual West Virginia Marching Band Invitational at the University of Charleston’s Laidley Field.
Erin Perkins Johnson contributed to this article.