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Spotlight - Jerry Park


Jerry Park's name has been synonymous with BC & his love for his hometown and school.

1. Early days in BC. When did you get started in music?
My start in music was the same as almost all the other kids in Bridge City at the time.....Mrs. Bryant's music class in elementary school. I really don't remember all the specifics, but I do remember playing the various little instruments, like tambourines, finger cymbals, etc., and pasting the note names on the lines and spaces of the staff. Then, probably third or fourth grade playing the tonette. I believe actual "band" started in the fifth grade. I loved it from the start.

2. Who were the person(s) in BC that had the most influence on you to continue on in Music as a career?

I guess there were two. Mrs Bryant, got me started, learning the names of the notes on the staff, etc. And Leon Theriot, who took over the Bridge City band program early on in my "musical career" and remained there until after I graduated. While at times, a tough taskmaster, he made band a fun experience. And perhaps MOST influential were the others in the band. At every level, the band is like a family. When we encountered any of the numerous problems that teenagers have to deal with, there was always a support group to fall back on. I've found that camaraderie even throughout my army career.

3. You mentioned you live near Williamsburg VA. Where exactly?

I currently (for the last thirty plus years) live in a small town in Virginia, called Poquoson (an Indian word meaning "great marsh").
It's just west of the Norfok/Virginia Beach metropolitan area, and about 25 miles east of Williamsburg. It's a wonderful little town that reminds me, in many ways, of the Bridge City in which I grew up. It has that "everybody knows everybody" feel to it.

 

4. You've enjoyed an extensive career so far, that included travel and living in many places. What do you miss most about BC?

Though I'm very happy where I am, sometimes when my wife is talking about her school days with her friends (she was born and raised here in Poquoson), it hits me that all those that share memories of my high school days are a thousand miles away. I don't get to have those discussions.....though, I must say, the internet, and more specifically Facebook, has made it MUCH easier to locate old friends and share memories.

5. Do you keep in touch with fellow BC Alumni?

Over the last few years, various web sites (including this one, and Facebook) have made it SO much easier to locate and contact old friends. I have contacted many of my old schoolmates, and have, on occasion, been able to meet with them on trips back to Texas. I even put together a BCHS Alumni cruise early last year...Not a HUGE success, but a lot of fun for those of us that made it!
Anything else you'd like to mention?

While I love Virginia, and the little town I live in, (and I've lived here longer than I did in Texas), I still consider myself a "native Texan" and proud to do so. While I haven't lived there in almost 4 decades, my Texas upbringing instilled a certain attitude that remains with me to this day.

Jerry Park Bio

After graduating from BCHS, I attended McNeese State College (now University) as a music major. There I met my first wife,left school and got married. We had one son Michael. I knocked around at a variety of jobs, from shipyard work to toy sales, until I finally joined the Army in Jan of 1973 (as a bandsman, of course). Probably the best move I ever made. After basic training at Fort Polk, LA, I went to the Armed Forces School of Music at Little Creek Amphibious Base, in Norfolk, VA The school was six months long and trains members of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps band programs. I was fortunate enough to audition for, and be accepted into the Continental Army Band, a major command band, located at Fort Monroe, VA....just across the river from where the school is located.

I spent the first seven years of my career there, and it was probably the best job I've ever had in my life. It was almost all music with a bare minimum of "military" and "maintenance" chores. I played in the marching band, concert band, and jazz band. While I was there, I was fortunate enough to participate in a "Pre Bicentenial" tour of all the New England states, and a Bicentennial tour of the "deep south" (Georgia, Alabama, Missisippi, Lousiana). I was also fortunate enough to play in Rockefeller plaza in NY City. I augmented my income (and my fun) by playing and singing in rock/country/variety groups in clubs throughout the Hampton Roads Virginia area.

Unfortunately, as these things go, my first marriage ended, but I was fortunate just a year later to meet my second/current/final wife, Linda. We have one son, who is an assistant manager at the Hyatt Regency Hotel located at the Pittsburgh airport.

After seven years at Fort Monroe, I transferred back to the School of Music as a member of the support staff there, working, at various times, in the training office, training support office, and various band libraries. I spent the remainder of my career there, with an eleven month "vacation" to the 2nd Infantry Division Band at Camp Casey in Tong Du Chon, South Korea. While there, I played trombone for the marching band and electric bass and lead vocalist with the rock combo. We were fortunate enough to open for several groups visiting the troops in Korea, including Loretta Lynn, Sawyer Brown and KC and the Sunshine band (as well as the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders).

After returning to the School of Music from Korea, I spent the last four years of my Army career attending Christopher Newport University, in the evenings, pursuing a degree in computer science,graduating in Dec 1992. After one "entry level" job as a database programmer, I spent the next 17 years doing computer security work for various contractors at NASA Langley Research Center. Whenever the contract ended in Oct 2010, I decided it was time for my "second retirement".

Since then I've enjoyed traveling and spending time with my three beautiful granddaughters. I've also had some fun serving as a "background actor" in a couple of TV commercials and a feature movie, "To Have And To Hold" (to be released in 2013) set in Colonial Jamestown, Virginia, just up the road from us. I started playing trombone again, about four years ago, joining the Peninsula Concert Band, a community band playing throughout the Hampton Roads Virginia area. And now I will be starting a new endeavor, having auditioned for, and been hired as a trombonist with one of the small musical ensembles at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Once again, after about 25 years, I will be a "professional musician". I am a happy man!

About The Photographs

LindaAlaska- is a photo of my wife Linda, and I, in front of an Alaskan glacier.

CouncilmanTHATH - is a shot of me, in costume as a Jamestown Councilm, in the movie "To Have And To Hold" JamestownmanTHATH - is me in another background role..a "Jamestown Man", in the same movie.

Shortime - is the name of the rock combo I played with in Korea Basspractice - Me playing bass in a practice session in Korea. Fortmonroestageband - The jazz ensemble from my time at Fort Monroe.

AlumniConcert: Me practicing for an "alumni" concert, featuring former members of The Continental Army Band (later known as the TRADOC Band)

Continentals: The jazz component of the Continental Army Band, known as The Continentals

Granddaddy: A picture of me, holding my youngest granddaughter on a bench at Busch Gardens.

TeamSpirit: Me holding both my trombone AND my M16 during the nationwide defense exercise of Korea, known as Team Spirit.

TS: Also during Team Spirit, the 2nd Infantry Division Band, marching in a parade in Wonju, Korea.

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