Accomplished musician/composer up for state honor
Click here to vote for Claude T. Smith
An accomplished musician and composer who directed the Chillicothe High School Band for 10 years is among candidates being considered for inclusion in the state Capitol's Hall of Famous Missourians.
Claude T. Smith directed the Chillicothe High School Band from 1967 until 1977 and became well-known throughout the country. The Missouri Music Educators Association nominated Smith for the honor.
The Hall of Famous Missourians is a collection of bronze busts and generally has honored people chosen by the House speaker. However, House Speaker Tim Jones is calling for a public vote to choose two new honorees, The Associated Press reported. Voting began Monday and is open through Oct. 31.
Smith composed instrumental and choral music and his compositions have been performed by leading musical organizations throughout the United States and in many foreign countries. He had more than 110 published works and composed solos for such artists as "Doc" Severinsen, Dale Underwood, Brian Bowman and Steve Seward.
Smith received prestigious commissions, including works for the U.S. Air Force Band, the "President's Own," the U.S. Marine Band and the U.S. Navy Band. His composition "Flight" has been adopted as the official march of the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institute. His orchestra commissions include compositions for the Kansas City Youth Symphony, the South Bend Youth Symphony and the Springfield Missouri Symphony.
On the local level, Smith composed "Marching Hornets" which is played at every Chillicothe High School football game.
Retired CHS band director Bill Maupin, whose expertise was in the area of woodwinds, brought Smith on board in 1967, focusing on brass instruments.
Maupin and Smith grew up in the same Carrollton, Mo., neighborhood, both graduating from Carrollton High School, Smith being five years older. Smith was born in Monroe City, but moved at a young age with his family to Carrollton, where his father operated at grocery store.
Maupin had come to the Chillicothe School District in 1963, when Frank Fendorf was band director. Fendorf wanted to bring in a woodwind player, which led him to Maupin, who was teaching in the Braymer School District at the time. Fendorf left in 1965 and went to Wingert Jones Music of Kansas City. (He currently resides in Overland Park, Kan., and still plays the trumpet and valve trombone).
After Fendorf left, Maupin tried recruiting Smith to join him in Chillicothe. Smith had been teaching band at Center High School in Kansas City. But, because he had a talented group of students that would be starting their senior year the following fall, Smith declined Chillicothe's offer. The position didn't stay open long as Maupin landed Dick Miller. Miller stayed just a year before being lured by Park College in Kansas City to rejuvenate its music department there.
"I called Claude again immediately and said the position was open again," Maupin said. "Chillicothe is a good town with a good school system. I told him this job won't stay open long."
Smith decided to take the offer, and one of his first goals was to bring in a guest soloist.
"'I've got in mind the first soloist I want to bring in,'" Maupin recalled Smith saying. "In fact, I'm writing a piece of music for him now.'"
That guest soloist was "Doc" Severinsen, the main trumpet player on the "Tonight Show."
Severinsen had been to Chillicothe two years prior as a guest soloist with the North Central Bandmasters Association Concert. Smith wrote two songs for Severinsen, and Severinsen was in Chillicothe to premier both of those songs during the celebrity concerts.
During his time in Chillicothe, Smith also led the choir at First Presbyterian Church.
Smith continued directing the high school band and was becoming well-known as an international composer. Maupin predicted that Smith would leave the district once his daughter, Pam Smith Kelly, graduated from high school.
"I figured I would lose him when Pam became a senior and graduated," Maupin said. "He was getting all sorts of offers all of the time."
And, as Maupin expected, after Pam graduated, Smith left. He took over directing the college symphony at what is now Missouri State University. He stayed there for a couple of years and left so that he could focus more time on composing music.
Smith began getting a lot of commission work from the top service bands.
"He wrote some terrific music for them," Maupin said. "When he wrote for high school bands, he had to keep in mind what students could do. With top military bands, he could write whatever he wanted. They had the cream of the crop."
At the time of his death in 1987, Smith was a staff composer for Jenson Publications, Inc., Educational Consultant and composer for Wingert-Jones Music of Kansas City, Missouri, and director of Music for the Blue Ridge Presbyterian Church in Raytown, Mo. Pam, a music educator in the Olathe, Kan., school system, operates Claude Smith Publications from her home.
Kelly told the Associated Press that her father was a humble man and wanted music to be part of everyone's life.
"He made an impact wherever he went," she said. "He loved his music No. 1, but he was such a gracious person and he loved working with people."
Maupin said Smith is deserving of becoming inducted into the Capitol's Hall of Famous Missourians.
"He was extremely gifted in composition and was an exceptional teacher," Maupin stated. "If he was in the office writing music and a student came in with a question, he would drop everything and go help that kid. Everybody had the highest regard for Claude."
"Even when he became a famous composer, nothing went to his head," he added. "He was the same guy all the time."
Smith is among 10 finalists for inclusion in the hall. The finalists were selected based largely on the number of nominations submitted this summer. Smith currently is ranked second in the number of votes cast, behind Andrew Taylor Still, who is credited as the father of osteopathic medicine.
Others on the ballot are
• Sue Shear — holds the record for legislative service for women in elected office in Missouri.
• Virginia Minor — In 1866 she launched the woman suffrage movement in Missouri, and in 1867 took an active role in founding the Woman Suffrage Association of Missouri;
• Rose O'Neill — a self-trained artist who periodically lived in the Missouri Ozarks throughout her adult life. She earned a fortune and international fame by creating the Kewpie, the most widely known cartoon character until Mickey Mouse.
• Robert Heinlein, Heinlein, who is considered one of the greatest American Science Fiction writers of the 20th century;
• John Henderson — a U.S. Senator from Missouri and a co-author of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
• John William "Blind" Boone — son of a former slave, overcame blindness, poverty and discrimination to become an accomplished composer and concert pianist.
• Christopher "Kit" Bond — former U.S. Senator from Missouri and a two-term governor.
• William Payne Stewart — an American professional golfer who won eleven PGA Tour events.