Bartos contribution sets the tone for Apache Band Heritage Endowment

Jul 17, 2013 by

The Tyler Junior College Apache Band has been delighting audiences and representing TJC for 65 years. Wherever the band goes, goodwill for TJC follows.

Beginning in the fall of 2013, Apache Band members will be able to come home to a specially designated floor of the Louise H. and Joseph Z. Ornelas Residential Complex. The Ornelas complex already has a floor dedicated to members of the Apache Belles, in recognition of their unique place in TJC history and current outreach.

Jerry Bartos (right) shares a moment with Tom Mensch, TJC director of bands, at a recent TJC alumni event. Bartos has made a significant contribution to the new Apache Band Heritage Endowment in honor of his mentor Doc Witt, who was the first director of bands at TJC.

Jerry Bartos (right) shares a moment with Tom Mensch, TJC director of bands, at a recent TJC alumni event. Bartos has made a significant contribution to the new Apache Band Heritage Endowment in honor of his mentor Doc Witt, who was the first director of bands at TJC.

The Apache Band played its first program after only a week of rehearsal, back in 1947, when the Tyler Chamber of Commerce invited the group of 30 on an Industrial Tour of the area.

Directing the band was a man who became a legend at TJC and beyond—John Franklin “Doc” Witt. He set the tone for the creation of the TJC band program and for every director who has followed.

Since Witt first raised his baton, the Apache Band has performed during Super Bowl halftime shows, entertained U.S. troops overseas and represented TJC worldwide. The band has been an invaluable asset to TJC, but more importantly, has changed the lives of its members.

Jerry Bartos played the drums in the original Apache Band in 1947. He has never forgotten the influence Doc Witt and the experience that being part of the Apache Band had on his life. Bartos is making a significant contribution to the new Apache Band Heritage Endowment in honor of Doc Witt. Thanks to Bartos, the lounge of the new Apache Band floor will be named in Doc’s honor and will recognize all TJC band directors, past and present.

Growing up in Tyler was not an easy ride for Jerry Bartos. He attended TJC when it was housed in the Tyler High School and delivered newspapers to help make ends meet. Fascinated by science, he saved for an inexpensive telescope to broaden his view of the stars, and then set his heart on chemistry when an aunt gave him a toy chemistry set. TJC was his springboard to The University of Texas at Austin, where he graduated with a degree in chemistry. Later, his career led him to Texas Eastman, where he worked for 25 years as a chemist. Lessons he learned in self-discipline and attention to detail while playing in the Apache Band under Doc Witt were vital to his success. He also has a passion for photography and has won numerous awards.

Doc Witt led the Apache Band for five years, until his death in 1952, and he brought a wealth of talent and experience to the group. Born in 1884 near Omaha, Texas, his background included a stint with the circus, playing in martial music bands and even in the John Phillips Sousa band. He led the Tyler Kid Band during WW I, which later organized itself into the Tyler Municipal Band, which he led for 36 years. He founded the Tyler High School band and later the TJC Apache Band. His decades of musical apprenticeship paved the way for the excellence the Apache Band demonstrates at every performance.

Students who dedicate themselves to the Apache Band are tireless ambassadors for TJC and the East Texas community. Their schedules are jammed with studies, rehearsals, performances and travel. A good band thrives on the camaraderie of the members and teamwork. The residence hall floor will enhance the relationships and interaction of band members and provide a living and learning environment like no other. The floor and the new Apache Band Heritage Endowment will preserve the legacy of the band and ensure the experience for future generations
of students.

Jerry Bartos during his TJC band days, circa 1947.

Jerry Bartos during his TJC band days, circa 1947.

Over the course of its 65-year history, the Apache Band has had thousands of members, and each has contributed to the success of the band program today.
If you were a member, had a family member who was in the band, wish to memorialize a former member or simply express appreciation for the Apache Band program, please consider a naming opportunity on the Apache Band floor of the Ornelas Residential Complex.

Naming opportunities include:
• Band Floor for a $50,000 gift
• Band Wing for a $25,000 gift
• Band Student Room for a $5,000 gift

As part of the John Franklin “Doc” Witt Directors Lounge, you may also contribute to recognize the more than six decades of leadership of the Apache Band.

Student rooms will have a personalized plaque recognizing a friend, a loved one, a family member or your own years as a band member. The plaques will remind current students of the deep heritage they share as Apache Band members and encourage them to live up to the excellence that has gone before them. Name recognition is also available within the lounge, wings and overall floor. All contributions will help build the Apache Band Heritage Endowment, which will provide ongoing funds to address the program’s priority needs.

To learn more about the Apache Band Heritage Endowment and its naming opportunities, contact Ruth Flynn, TJC interim director of alumni affairs, at 903-510-3197 or by email at rfly@tjc.edu, or visit www.tjc.edu/BandHeritageEndowment.


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Alumni, On Campus, Spring 2013

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