Mr. James P. Wilson, Jr.

d. 11 Jan 2014 - Emporia, VA

Email his daughter, Stephanie Wilson Vassar at <>.
Write his wife at 4658 Brink Road, Emporia, VA 23847.

Wayne State University, B.S.

Band Director, Varsity Flagtwirlers Sponsor, Music Department Head,
Sponsor of the Senior Class of 1960, Assistant Principal

"Although the students here at Newport News High School
have varied interests, there is one that all have in common - school spirit.  This quality has come to be synonymous
in the minds of our student body with a man whose own enthusiastic and infectious pride in our school has made
him become, in effect, our faculty sponsor of school spirit."
    Saturday, October 23, 2004
1964's 40-Year Reunion - Newport News, VA
1965 Anchor, p. 21 1972 Anchor Carol Buckley Harty ('65) of NC and Mr. Jim Wilson of VA Mr. and Mrs. James P. Wilson
of Emporia, VA
04/17/04 Courtesy of Tim Parsons ('73)
of VA - 10/17/04
Thanks, Tim!
11/02/04 08/18/07

Van Rowell and his bother-in-law, Charlie Snead (Class of '64), visited Mr. Wilson
several years ago at his home in Emporia, Virginia.

Jimmy Smith (Class of '62) reported that for several years following his retirement from teaching,
Mr. Wilson managed a steak house there in Emporia.

I LOVE this job!  Out of the clear blue sky I received a phone call this morning from Mr. Wilson!
What a delight!  We had great fun both remembering the past and anticipating October's reunion.
He gave me permission not only to add him to the Alumni Page, but to post his email addy for you here.
Thanks, Mr. Wilson!

- Carol Buckley Harty ('65) of NC - 07/14/04

I bowled with Mr. Wilson in a local league here on the southside a few years ago. He looked great.
I remember when he gave me a choice once after I got a pink slip.
He said, "Ok, you can have 5 days or 5 licks. " I took the 5 licks.
I was instructed to take my wallet out of my pocket and bend over.
He gave me 5 licks with a paddle that had holes in it. And it hurt like heck. 
I'm not sure what I did wrong but I'm sure I deserved it and I never did it again.

Tim Parsons ('73) of VA - 10/17/04

HA HA!  Thanks, Tim!

As for James Wilson - not a hero of mine at the time and certainly no love lost between us - nor probably
any other drummer he ever directed. However, he did insist on a standard of excellence that was unmatched
in the 60s and I have yet to see a HS band that could come close to his NNHS TYPHOON MARCHING SENIOR BAND.
When I reflect on things I learned from him not a single note, rudiment nor cadence comes to mind
(Ms. Shockley taught me how to play) - but Mr. Wilson taught me about setting a goal and achieving it,
about insisting on extraordinary as being your ordinary, about discipline, dedication and PRIDE.

- Jim Dossett ('66) of FL - 10/29/04
Thanks, Jim!

I remember how angry Mr. Wilson would become with the whole percussion section from time to time.
He'd throw his baton across the room and yell, "You're not percussionists; you're just a bunch of drummers!"
Of course, his constantly raising the bar meant that the Typhoon Band had the best percussion section anywhere.

All seven of my children participated in band at least for a time. So often I remember thinking how Mr. Wilson would never
have tolerated the lack of discipline, the shoddy appearances, the almost intentional mediocrity which sometimes prevailed
among some (but blessedly not all) of their directors, due to lack of attention to detail. I would see those bands in concert,
and they would not snap their instruments to attention, they would wiggle and squirm in their chairs, they would even (gasp!)
talk to each other. I watched them in parades and their ranks were crooked, they would be out of step, and their
shoes didn't even match. And I would hear their lame drum cadences and think, "Oh, why don't they just play the Gil-Walk?!?"

And then I'd remember. The Gil-Walk wasn't a nationally known cadence. It was composed by Bill Gilbert and John Walker,
both of the Class of 1964, probably while they were still freshmen. Bill even taught me how to play the snare drum part myself,
back in '63. I remember it still, just as surely as I can still play "Fanfare and Giant" on my flute.
It may not have been famous; it was simply the best.

- Carol Buckley Harty ('65) of NC - 11/05/04

Forever and always he will be Mr. James P. Wilson, Jr. - never just Mr. Wilson or, heaven forbid, Jim!
Mr. James P. Wilson, Jr. instilled in his band members the qualities of dedication to whatever pursuit one is involved,
whether being in the band, studying for other classes, being kind to others, being prepared, or being one member of a larger group
contributing our best.To this day I use Mr. James P. Wilson, Jr. as a role model. I expect the people I supervise to be on time,
prepared and ready to contribute to the group.

My favorite memory of being in the band is the (Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival Parade in) Winchester each year, and
winning the trophy each year, of course! After the parade we would travel to interesting places including Gettysburg. No outsider
could ever believe a group as large as ours (125 to 150+ members) could dress exactly alike, right down to our socks and shoes,
and behave so politely given that we were all teenagers!

Remember the year it rained ('66) and we all wore raincoats until just before the reviewing stand? We really looked sharp
compared to all the other bands. We won that trophy, too! I went back to Winchester about 10 years ago for the parade, and I can
say with all truthfulness there was no band, of any size, from anywhere, who could hold a candle to us! We were the best!

I have many more memories of the four years I was in Mr. James P. Wilson, Jr. 's band. I'm sure you all do, too.
Mr. James P. Wilson, Jr. should be proud of the legacy he left at Newport News High School. He is one of a kind.
Thank you, Mr. James P. Wilson, Jr.

- Shirley Eanes Matthews ('66) of VA - 02/11/05
Thank you, Shirley!  I'll add my "Amen" to all of that.

The string of victories by the band at Winchester was something.  But I remember the parade being longer
than two miles and several hills involved. Of course, that could be like us walking ten miles to school in the
snow barefoot.  You said we were "well drilled", and that's no joke.  My second week in Air Force basic
training I was called to the DI's office and told I was being made a squad leader.  The DI said he knew I was
from Virginia and wanted to know which military school I had attended.  I told him I was in the
NNHS band
but he wouldn't believe me.  Still asked me the same question on graduation day.  So yes, the many hours
of practice and hard work paid off for us personally, and for the reputation of the school.  It was great to see
Mr. Wilson last October and let him know how much influence he had on so many lives.

- Dave Arnold ('65) of VA - 04/29/05
Thanks, Dave!


I posted this Obama style poster of Jim Wilson on the NNHS Facebook page.

Someone commented that he would enjoy seeing it and I thought your website might be the best vehicle to accomplish that.

You're welcome to use this if you think it's appropriate.

- Bobby Sprouse ('66) of CO - 06/22/12

   WOWZERS! Thanks for thinking of us, Bobby!  
I'm not sure if Mr. Wilson will see the image or not, as last I heard (five years ago)
he was not online, but the rest of us can certainly enjoy it! 


I'm Mr. Wilson's oldest daughter, Stephanie. I was born in 1964, so I have fuzzy memories of NNHS and the band.

Mom and Dad still live at their home in Emporia. Dad has dementia now, and has had a rough couple of years. We have the picture
at their house like the one you have posted (of him smoking his pipe wearing the "Beat Blair" ribbon). I brought it down to him
the other day, and said, "Who is this young man?" He got a big grin on his face and said "J.P.!"

He remembers those years well, and we listen to music a lot. My son is in band now, and I relay news of his competitions
and such to Dad. He's proud of that, but I know any band nowadays would not hold a candle to NNHS.

Just wanted to give you an update. I'm sure Dad would love to hear from any of you, so if you want
to sent me emails to this address, I will take them to him when I see him--I go every other week.

Thanks for this page. It's a nice, appropriate tribute to him!

- Stephanie Wilson Vassar - 03/16/13
 WOWZERONI-RINI-ROON! Thank you so much, Stephanie!

I remember when you were born - Flag Day of 1964 - which all the band members agreed was only fit
and proper for the first born child of our very patriotic band director!  As I recall, a collection was taken,
and your crib was bought by the members of the Typhoon Band.

My second son was married on that day in 1996, and one my six grandsons was born on that day in 2008,
but even after forty-eleven years have passed, when Flag Day rolls around, I still unfailingly remember
that Mr. Wilson's baby girl arrived on this day in 1964.

You are exactly right! The band did purchase my crib! And yes, my birthday is Flag Day!
- Stephanie Wilson Vassar - 03/17/13

AHA!  How this teeny-tiny scrap of paper managed to survive the massive raid of my three oldest sons on my memorabilia back in the summer of 1977
until it could be Xeroxed and safely mounted into my Creative Memories Album for my junior year of high school (which was not created until probably 2003),
only the Lord and the ministering angels of Heaven could know, but here it is!

We won't mention the names of the marauders, but my fourth son was only a tiny baby, and the three younger children had not yet been born, so.....

- Carol Buckley Harty ('65) of NC - 03/17/13

Seventy-Six Trombones

Seventy-six trombones led the big parade
 With a hundred and ten cornets close at hand.
 They were followed by rows and rows of the finest virtuo-
 Sos, the cream of ev'ry famous band.
 Seventy-six trombones caught the morning sun
 With a hundred and ten cornets right behind.
 There were more than a thousand reeds
 Springing up like weeds;
 There were horns of ev'ry shape and kind.
 There were copper bottom tympani in horse platoons,
 Thundering, thundering all along the way.
 Double bell euphoniums and big bassoons,
 Each bassoon having it's big, fat say!
 There were fifty mounted cannon in the battery,
 Thundering, thundering louder than before.
 Clarinets of ev'ry size
 And trumpeters who'd improvise
 A full octave higher than the score.

"Seventy-Six Trombones" midi courtesy of,
at the suggestion of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 06/13/03 
Thanks, Dave!

"Seventy-Six Trombones" lyrics courtesy of - 06/13/03

Animated Army Flag clip art courtesy of - 06/18/03

Treble and Bass Clef clip art courtesy of - 04/02/11

Musical Divider Line clip art courtesy of - um, I am unable to locate that information at this time.

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