Sam Houston State University
Dr. Ralph Lee Mills began his clarinet career in the fourth grade under Dr. Raymond T. Bynum in the Abilene Texas Public Schools through elementary and high school
where he played in both bands and orchestras and graduated in 1940. He continued his education at the University of Texas at Arlington majoring in music and studying from Robert Ernst., clarinetist with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for two years before the United States Air Force required his service for the next thirty eight months as a bandsman, mostly in Utah and Colorado", where he also played with the Colorado Springs Symphony Orchestra.
Following his discharge, he went directly to San Jose State University where he did most of his bachelor's degree work from 1945 to 1947 and studied with a wonderful clarinet teacher., Thomas Eagen, who introduced him to the French School of clarinet playing, while playing in both the Symphonic Band and Symphony Orchestra. In 1947 he became director of the Lamesa High School Band and remained there until 1949 while finishing his Bachelor of Arts degree in performance from McMurry University in Abilene. From 1949 t01951 he was a band director with the Odessa Schools and member of the Odessa Symphony Orchestra. From 1951 to 1954 Mills was high school band director and coordinator of instrumental music in the Midland schools. In 1954 he became director and coordinator of music for the First Baptist Church, a position he held until 1959. During his years in Midland he was a member of the Midland Symphony Orchestra.
West Texas State University (West Texas A&M)
Gary Garner was born in Dodge City, Kansas, to Frank and Madge Garner on August 14, 1930. When he was seven, the family moved to Eugene, Oregon, where they remained for one year before coming to Texas.
He attended Sam Houston Junior High School in Amarillo and in the seventh grade joined the band at the urging of his two best friends. Mr. Eads, the band director, gave him a baritone sax. Since it soon proved to be more than he could handle on his bike when he tried to take it home to practice, he convinced his parents to buy the most portable instrument he could find--a flute.
In high school, Gary also took up the saxophone and the clarinet and began playing in local dance bands, which he continued to do throughout college and for many years thereafter.
Following graduation from high school, Gary enrolled at Texas Tech as a geology major, which quickly proved to be a poor choice. Gary had resisted being a music major because that would most likely lead to a career in teaching--something he was determined to avoid at all costs. After the geology debacle, however, he became a music major by default.