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Don Wilcox, Northport's beloved band director, has died

Don Wilcox
Don Wilcox

Wilcox was director of bands emeritus at West Virginia University and the director emeritus of the Northport Community Band.

Don Wilcox, director emeritus of the Northport Community Band, has died.

Wilcox attended the University of Michigan and spent a summer in the University Division at Interlochen Arts Camp.

From 1971 to 1997, Wilcox was director of bands at the West Virginia University.

During his tenure, he tripled the size of the marching band ("The Pride of West Virginia") and grew it into one of the most respected programs in the country. He also began admitting women to the marching band in 1972.

The WVU marching band still uses a pre-show attributed to Wilcox, playing "Country Roads" in the shape of the state of West Virginia and "Simple Gifts" in an iconic circle shape.

He retired from the University of West Virginia in 2005 and moved to his wife Kaye Jean's hometown of Northport.

Not long after moving to Northport, he took over as the director of the Northport Community Band, founded by his longtime friend and fellow band director Ken Bloomquist.

In 2022, Wilcox conducted his final performance of the Northport Community Band and then became the group's director emeritus.

Wilcox was beloved by the WVU marching band network and the Northport music community. He brought the two worlds together regularly when the WVU Alumni Band would travel to Northport for a summer tour.

Wilcox died Monday, May 27, at home. He is survived by his wife, Kaye Jean, and four children.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Dr. Amanda Sewell is IPR's music director.