Longtime Glenvar High band director Wilbur Grant had a wide range of musical taste, from classical to the Beatles
Wilbur E. Grant, 73, of Salem, passed away Wednesday, June 13, 2012. He taught music in Virginia public schools for 34 years and directed the Glenvar High School band for 21 of those years and wrote the Highlanders’ alma mater, according to GHS’s principal Joe Hafey. Up until five years ago, Grant was the official emcee of the annual “Groovy Teens” pageant.
At the time of his death he was serving as the director of the Roanoke Valley Community Band and was recently selected as President and Conductor of the Kazim Shrine Band, known as the Noblemen, and was Director of the Old Pros of Dublin.
“Wilbur was just a great guy. If you were involved in music in any kind of band music in the Roanoke Valley in the 70s, 80s and 90s, somehow, he was involved in it,” Hafey said. Grant was the director of Glenvar High when Hafey attended school there (graduated in ’79). “He was a heck of a clarinet player.”
“He had a wide range of musical taste from the classical to the Beatles, he loved the Beatles – He was Beatles Trivia Nut,” said Hafey.
Grant was also solo clarinetist with the Handley High School Band, Winchester; solo clarinetist and student conductor with the Shenandoah Conservatory Concert Band. Also Wilbur was the second clarinetist with the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Symphony Orchestra and The Roanoke Symphony Orchestra. He has performed with Myron Florin, The Box Tops, The Four Seasons, Bobby Goldsboro, Liberace, Patsy Cline (when she was still using her maiden name of Virginia Hensley), Englebert Humperdinck, The Mill Mountain Theatre Orchestra, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Teresa Brewer, Floyd Cramer, Boots Randolph, Sonny & Cher, The Ice Capades, Holiday On Ice, Barnum and Bailey Circus, The Royal Lippezanner Stallions, Disney on Parade, The Shrine Circus, The Stylist Orchestra (part owner), The Freddie Lee Orchestra, The Bob LeFever Orchestra, as well as others. Wilbur studied clarinet with Harold Wright, the Principal Clarinetist of The National Symphony and later the Boston Symphony. At the time of his death he was serving as the director of the Roanoke Valley Community Band and was recently selected as President and Conductor of the Kazim Shrine Band, known as the Noblemen, and was Director of the Old Pros of Dublin.
Grant’s funeral was held Saturday, June 16. To see his obituary, click here.
The photo above is from March 27, 2012, by Avery Eliades with SwoCo – Grant was directing the Roanoke Valley Community Band at Cave Spring High School. Here’s a link to more photos from that event.
If you might like your memories about Grant included in this story, leave a comment below by Tuesday morning, June 19.