Mr. Donnie Owens is an incredible teacher. Or was, since he retired, again. I was quite priveleged to be a member of the marching band in high school while under direction from Mr. Owens. Now, while I didn't play an instrument, I was in the color gaurd. (I know, I'm looking dorkier and dorkier as this post continues.) He was the teacher who challenged you to give more than your best because you respected him. His lessons were not only that of music and marching but of life. Marching practice at 6am- "To be early is to be on time. To be on time is to be late. To be late is to be sorry."- as he hollered directions into the megaphone for people to stay on step, get in line, etc. In those early morning hours, band practice could be heard miles away, especially when the wind was just right. He taught us to deal with it and move on- "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear." His life was an example in and of itself. As of now, he and his wife have been married 53 years. She offered unending support- sewing band uniforms, at every event in Gator blue, as an elementary teacher. They together lived the life of God-fearing Christians.
Mr. Owens came to my hometown in 1973, from Oklahoma where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Southeastern Oklahoma State University and later a Master of Music Education degree from North Texas State University. Mr. Owens has forty-five years of experience in the states of Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas as well as State Honor Bands in all three states. His Dickinson High School Marching Band advanced to every 4A State Marching Contest, made finals every time and won the State Marching Contest five times. In 1994 the Dickinson Band Hall was renamed the "Don Owens Band Hall", the year he retired from Dickinson. Mr. Owens has held individual offices in Oklahoma and Texas band organizations and has received numerous individual honors. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Bandmasters Hall of Fame, he was the first Texas band director to receive the UIL Denius Sponsor Excellence Award, and he was receive the National Band Association Citation of Merit. He was inducted into the Texas Bandmasters Hall of Fame in July 2010. Less than 1% of high school band directors are inducted into a hall of fame, and Mr. Owens did it twice! The requirements to be considered for induction are incredible- length of service overall, continued service to one school, awards won, etc. Hands down, Mr. Owens earned and deserved these honors.
Recently, some former DHS graduates and Donnie O students organized a banquet honoring Mr. Owens upon his induction into the Texas hall of fame. I was so honored to be able to attend. I know he touched thousands of lives over the course of his career, and there was quite a crowd to prove it. As people shared their stories, you could hear that Mr. Owens was the kind of teacher who truly made a difference beyond the classroom. The director of music in the district found old files while cleaning the band office and found proof of Mr. Owens' dedication to his job. There were only 4 days that Mr. Owens requested off in his 20 years at DHS. One to be pall bearer at the funeral of the father of 4 students, one to be a pall bearer for a former student, one to deal with his father's estate (I don't recall the other). It's incredible to see a good handful of former students who have returned to work in the same district as band directors and teachers at the various levels. At the banquet, the Mayor of Dickinson came by to declare "Mr. Owens Day" for the city. He certainly deserves it!
I can't even begin to express the wonderful memories and experiences of being part of the band program under the direction on Don Owens. At the banquet, I also found out that he and Mrs. Owens live about an hour from me. They invited me to come visit. I may just have to take them up on it.