Notes from Pat Smith:  Mr. Wellock was a traveling music teacher who supported our schools at McComas.  I received the following email along with a biography of Mr. Wellock.  Those of you who were taught by him may be interested in reading how his career and life grew after mid-century teaching at McComas.  Thank you Michelle for sharing this tribute with us. 
October 11, 2005  email received by Pat Smith

Hi, Just thought  I would drop you a line. I found your site while looking for information on Richard Wellock (he is listed as the choir teacher on your list). I was not sure if you knew that he passed away about 10 years ago. I had the pleasure of working with this gentleman when I was in college at FSC. I was the chairperson for a Musicale that we did of all the works he published. He was quite an accomplished musician. Just thought you would like to know. Michelle Liga

"A Salute to Richard Wellock"

NOTES DA CAPO - By John Puffenbarger
February, 1993

Richard Wellock may be retired, but he is still very much involved with music. Recently he finished a piano suite on which he has been working since his retirement in 1978. He has composed twenty-nine compositions for choir, band, piano, voice, handbells, and numerous other combinations, and he has several more in progress, including a major piece for piano and orchestra. Several of his compositions have been published, and most have been performed.

Last year he was invited to be the key-note speaker for the WVMEA County Music Directors fall conference. He displayed his love of music through an inspiring talk. Enthusiastic as always, he told of his long career with music education.

Wellock served as WVMEA president from 1957-58, and was president of the W.Va. College music Educators from 1961-62. As the first chairman of the Fine Art Division at Fairmont State College, he has had the opportunity to watch the college grow.

Born in Enid, Oklahoma, on 14 September 1917, he attended public schools in Springfield, Missouri. Encouragement at home played a major role in his introduction to music. Wellock comments, "My father was a fine musician and my sister was a professional singer in New York during the 1940s and 1950s. I had excellent training in my youth. The city I grew up in had an excellent music program, and I had some very good teachers. My grandmother taught me piano, and then I started practicing the trumpet. I was trained in classical music and played trumpet in my high school band and orchestra. I won first-place trumpet at the Missouri state and at the Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri Tri-State Music Festivals."

Wellock studied trumpet with Winston Lyons at Southwest Missouri State College from 1928-1938 and with Joseph Gustat, principal trumpet of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, from 1933-1944. He studied composition with Will James, nationally known choral composer of Springfield, Missouri; Dr. T. Stanley Skinner at Drury College; and Thomas Canning at West Virginia University. he received a B.S. degree in music education, trumpet, and voice from Southwest Missouri in 1942. He played third to principal trumpet in the Springfield, Missouri Orchestra from 1936-1941. Wellock played in the U.S. Air Force Band, Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. from 1942-1946. He had short tours of duty in Goose Bay, Labrador, and Miami Beach, and was discharged from Greensboro, North Carolina, in February 1946.

He says, "I first came to West Virginia for the first time because of my first wife. We met at a choral workshop in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, in 1940." Hortense Martin was from Athens, West Virginia, and was a music teacher at Oakvale High School. They were married in 1943, and their son, Rick, was born in 1947. Hortense died of cancer in 1959; Rick lives with his wife Dorothy and their two children, Amy and Reid, in Ligonier, Pennsylvania.

Having been the supervisor of music in the Ozark, Missouri, public school, Wellock became involved in many areas of music when he moved to West Virginia.

 

A Salute to Richard Wellock (Part II)

NOTES DA CAPO - By John Puffenbarger
March 1993

When Richard Wellock arrived in Bluefield in 1946 there were only fifteen in the high school hand. The band program was in poor condition because of an inadequate elementary program. Wellock began to develop musicianship tests which included scales, technique, arranging, and conducting, and by 1953 approximately four hundred students were in the total music program.

When Wellock became Mercer County music supervisor in 1953, he was concerned about the lack of general music in the schools. He began work on a comprehensive music program and completed an eight-year plan for the countv in just five years. The music staff grew from thirteen to thirty-five teachers. and a county budget of $15,000 was added.

In addition to his music supervisory duties, Wellock served as WVMEA president from 1957-59, and as president of the College Music Educators in 1961-62. During, his term as WVMEA President he met with Rex Smith, West Virginia Assistant Superintendent of Schools, and learned that the State Department of Education was considering adding a supervisor position. but the specialization had not been determined. Wellock wrote a job description for the position of state music supervisor and presented it to the state superintendent. Consequently, the position of State Music Consultant was created. Dr. Myllan Smyers was the first person to hold this position. He was presented to the WVMEA membership at the Conference in Charleston in March 1958.

After Wellock's first wife Hortense Martin died of cancer in 1959, he moved to Fairmont. In the fall of 1960 he became chair of the music department at Fairmont State College, beginning his career at the college in the music wing of the administration building. "Those were wonderful years." Wellock said. "I saw the music department grow. We moved into a new fine arts building, which gave us an opportunity to expand our program." In 1966 he became the first chair of the Fine Arts Department. He developed a program for the music department, and by 1969 it was the second largest among state colleges. More teachers were added to the faculty, and the student population crew to ninety-three music majors and forty minors.

Wellock stopped playing the trumpet in 1950 because of an inner ear infection. He stated. "I played my master's recital in 1950 and, in fact, that was the last time I technically played the trumpet. But I still play the piano and sing. And I have had an opportunity to conduct band and choral festivals, and teacher workshops on boys' and girls' changing voices." He also has served as an adjudicator at many band festivals.

He has been as busy in retirement as when he was working professionally. "Retirement has given me a chance to continue to work in my church as the hand bell director." he said. "I have had the opportunity to work on my own compositions. I have had three of my compositions performed in Washington, New York, different places in the Midwest, and at Fairmont State College. My favorite composition is the anthem I wrote for the church called 'Come, Ye Christian Pilgrims.'"

In 1962 Wellock married Virginia Holden Palmer, who was an instructor of piano and organ at Fairmont State College. He said, "Mrs. Wellock and I have completed six tours to Europe, one to Israel, and a tramp freighter trip to South America via the Panama Canal, and another tramp freighter trip on the St. Lawrence Seaway to Montreal and on to Tunisia, Egypt, and, Morocco." Wellock said that the reason for the success of his life while living in Fairmont was the unique relationship with his wife. "She has been wonderful." he said. "We will be celebrating our 31st wedding anniversary this year."

1