You may not know Don Wilcox, but you know his legacy. Every time the West Virginia University Marching Band – The Pride of West Virginia – performs, traces of Wilcox’s teachings ring through. Every time you see a woman in The Pride uniform, Wilcox’s practices shine.
As the Director of Bands for 34 years before his retirement in 2005, Wilcox is perhaps the most transformational band director in Pride history. It’s no surprise to anyone that knows Wilcox, and the love his former students have for him, that an anonymous $50,000 gift in his honor has been donated to The Pride of West Virginia to support its greatest needs.
“People saw Don Wilcox as a great director, but they also connected with him as a person and that’s what made his impact so great,” said John Hendricks, associate dean of the College of Creative Arts. “His philosophical views on band, music and life made a difference in people’s lives.”
A ccording to Hendricks, who was a Pride graduate assistant and assistant director under Wilcox as part of a long career with WVU Bands, the style of today’s Pride is in large part thanks to Wilcox.
“When Don came on as Director, the style of the band shifted – it’s Don’s style – and you still see it today,” Hendricks said. “From the marching, to the songs and formations, The Pride to this day is still very much influenced by Don.”
Wilcox is responsible for some of the most beloved Pride traditions, including the pregame show. Hundreds of thousands of football fans have come to adore Wilcox’s use of ‘Country Roads,’ the state outline formation, ‘Simple Gifts’ and the Simple Gifts circles.
I n 1972, Wilcox made the decision to admit women into The Pride, forever changing the lives of WVU’s women musicians who finally had a chance to partake in the state’s most beloved band.
Wilcox is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including West Virginia University’s Outstanding Teacher Award, the 1993 Golden Apple Outstanding Faculty Award, and the Heebink Award for Outstanding Service to the university and the state. He has received special citations from four Governors for his contributions to the state of West Virginia and at WVU’s 2008 commencement he was awarded the University’s highest honor when he was inducted into the Order of Vandalia. He was also a past-President of the American Bandmasters Association.
The Mr. Don Wilcox “Mountaineer Marching Band” Endowment (fund number 3V1083), supporting the greatest need of the Pride of West Virginia, can continue Wilcox’s legacy through music and performance. Show your thanks for Don today by contributing to the fund at give.wvu.edu.