*Editor's note: This is the second part of a two-part feature that highlights the life and achievements of seven remarkable WHS alumni — Larry Felty, Beverly Everett, Scott Dorsett, Sam Taylor, Harold Dorsey and Jeremiah Richey. The first ran Friday in the WDL.
WAXAHACHIE — In six short days, seven Waxahachie High School alumni will be inducted into the WHS Ex-Students Fine Arts Hall of Fame for the very first time. These ex-students excelled in their high school or professional careers in either visual, theatre or musical arts at WHS.
These seven inductees include Jeremiah Richey class of 1998, Sam Taylor class of 1970, Larry Felty class of 1958, Beverly Everett class of 1988, Park Cooper class of 1990, Scott Dorsett class of 1976 and former WHS band director Harold Dorsey.
The only inductee to receive the “patron” nomination is former WHS Band Director and principal of Marvin Elementary, T.C. Wilemon Junior High and WHS, Harold Dorsey. He is native to a small community located near Hillsboro, Honest Ridge, and is a Hillsboro High School graduate.
As previously reported by the WDL, “For the ‘patron’ nomination, which is slightly different from the others, one must have been a faculty member, administrator, media member, community leader, or supporter." The description also states that he or she must have “contributed extraordinarily to Waxahachie High School in a capacity other than as a Director or Teacher and have been involved at Waxahachie High School for a sustained period of time, generally at least ten years.”
Dorsey was born Oct. 23, 1923, and passed away three days shy of his 92nd birthday. At the time of his passing in 2015, he was survived by his daughter, LeighAnn Dorsey McClure, and preceded in death by wife, Wilma Theile Dorsey in 2012 and their son Marcus Stuart Dorsey in April 2015.
LeighAnn McClure shared that her father attended Hillsboro College and the University of Texas before graduating from the University of North Texas.
“Of course, he played trombone in the band at each institution. In fact, he met my mother when they both played in the trombone section for the UNT band. He received both his Bachelor and Master's degrees in Music Education in addition to administration certification,” LeighAnn McClure said.
Though he received a formal education, Dorsey enlisted as a radio technician for the U.S. Army Signal Corps attached to the Army Air Force during WWII.
“He served from February 1943 through October 1945 [...] His desire to become an educator stemmed from watching young men lose their lives in the service of their country. Harold always said he wanted to live his life in a way that would honor theirs,” McClure stated.
Before his many years at WISD, he served at the band director for the DeLeon High School band until 1951 when he relocate to WHS.
“His tenure as WHS band director lasted until 1966 when he became principal at Marvin Elementary. During that time, he taught all band classes from fifth through twelfth grades alone in addition to teaching fourth grade to play the Tonette. He became principal at T.C. Wilemon Junior High when the new high school was completed in 1970 and became the high school principal in 1971,” McClure explained.
In 1983, his time in WISD came to a halt, but his community service after retirement and involvement as the music director at his home church, Central Presbyterian Church, did not.
“In 1985 he became the director of the West Ellis County United Way and served in that capacity for several years. He was a member of numerous organizations in Waxahachie including the Rotary Club, Friends of the Library, and the Ellis County Historical Commission. In 2009, the Ellis County Commissioners Court declared July 13-17 as ‘Harold Dorsey Week’,” his daughter said.
He married his wife of 64 years in 1948. Wilma served as the WHS choir director until 1957, and, along with her position at the high school, she taught piano in Waxahachie until the time of her death in 2012.
“Together they supported the Waxahachie Symphony Association, the Dallas Opera Guild, the Dallas Symphony, the Dallas Museum of Art, and many arts organizations both financially and as volunteers,” McClure stated.
The couple created a musically inclined family who will carry on their legacy for generations to come. His daughter, LeighAnn, is the choral director at Keller Central High School, sings with the Fort Worth Chorale, is a former executive board member of the Texas Music Adjudicators Association and the Texas Choral Directors Association, and has held numerous positions in the Texas Music Educators Association.
LeighAnn noted that her brother, Marcus, served as a performer, composer and worship leader and that her son, Michael McClure, is also a musical theater performer who is currently on the 20th-anniversary tour of Rent.
“My dad would be so humbled by this because he did not ever seek recognition, he actually deflected it. My family as a whole think that this is a huge honor,” McClure stated.
Dorsey received the “Outstanding Educator” award from the Waxahachie Ex-Students Association in 2003.
From the WHS band hall to concert venues in Nashville, Richey, a 1998 WHS graduate, set off on his lifelong musical journey in sixth grade to show the world what he had to offer. Richey's ability to play multiple instruments, sing and write songs guided him to appearances as a finalist on ABC’s “The One: Making a Music Star” in 2006, second place finisher on CMT’s “Can You Duet?” in 2008, and as a contestant on NBC’s “The Voice” in 2013.
As told by the musician’s website, “In the sixth grade he desperately wanted to play percussion in the school band, but when he was told that the class was full, he grudgingly signed up to play the trumpet. At the time he was disappointed, but what the young Jeremiah didn’t know is that he had just set in motion an epic journey.”
He transformed into a gifted trumpet player that would make many honor bands while in high school but would become burned out and uninterested playing the trumpet after his senior year. While attending Dallas Baptist University, Richey discovered a love for playing the drums and became a member of a few bands. Through this, he found his true love and life calling, strumming a guitar and expressing his emotion through singing and songwriting.
“After college, he became a project analyst at Dallas-based brokerage firm, H.D. Vest. After a two-year stint there, he was selected from over 50,000 entrants to be one of 11 contestants on ABC’s television show, 'The One: Making a Music Star.' Although the show ultimately did not do well, it was the spark Jeremiah needed to decide to chase his music dream full time,” the website explained.
Once the show concluded Rickey returned to Dallas to record an independent album and then moved to Los Angeles where he landed a spot on the cast of CMT’s “Can You Duet” and finished second place. After the finale, he took a shot in the dark and moved to Nashville.
In 2013 bandleader for Peter Frampton, Rob Arthur, and Richey met at a concert at the Hard Rock Cafe in Cancun Mexico.
Arthur previously told the WDL “It was a bunch of classic rock guys and a bunch of ‘American Idol’ and ‘Voice’ type people that were at this event. I thought all of these ‘Voice’ people and ‘American Idol’ people were good, but Jeremiah stood out to as to having some real chops. My wife [Cricket LaRoque Neuman] made a promise to stay in touch with him somehow,” Arthur said. “About a year ago she noticed that I had a day off in Nashville. She knew Jeremiah lived in Nashville. She said ‘you guys should get together and write a song.' We wrote a song in my hotel room when I was staying in Nashville, and it went great.”
Because of their great experience in Nashville, Arthur and his wife flew Richey to L.A. to write a song “Love Won’t Let Me Down” which would soon be featured on his first album, "Northridge."
The website says “When Rob got back home to the L.A. area, he and Cricket fell in love with the song so much that they decided to start a record label to release a full-length record featuring Jeremiah and, thus, Highway 7 Records and the idea of Northridge was born. Rob and Jeremiah worked diligently through the winter to write most of the material for the record and in 2016 started recording the base instrumental tracks for the project.”
The musician was slated to celebrate his album release on the courthouse square of Waxahachie Saturday, Sept. 17 following homecoming week. Unfortunately, the weather did not comply and the show was canceled.
The record features a song 'Day the Faces Changed’ which tells the story of Harry Hurley’s carvings of Mabel Frame on the Waxahachie courthouse. The WDL previously reported, “Richey’s band is comprised of not only Arthur but also George Hawkins who played with ‘Fleetwood Mac,’ Bobby Vandell who played with ‘Lipps Inc.,’ John McFee of the ‘Doobie Brothers,’ Gary Sieger who performed with Donald Fagen and Bradley James Skistimas from ‘Five Times August’.”
A jack of all fine arts trades and WHS 1970 graduate, Sam Taylor has a rich history in music, film, art and publishing. Taylor hails from a musically inclined family who educated and encouraged him throughout his music career.
“My parents were both musicians and I was around it all the time growing up. My father was the music director at the South Prong Baptist Church where my mom played the piano,” Taylor explained. “My father started teaching me how to play piano at a very young age and sometimes I would play at church. By the age of five, I was playing all the time.”
Taylor gave credit to his older brother, Scott, for teaching him the rock and blues side of playing the piano and would learn to play the guitar at the age of twelve.
“In the fifth grade Mr. Harold Dorsey, who was the band director at the time, got me started on the trumpet. My freshman year Mr. Dorsey became a principal, so we got a new band director, P.B. Castleberry, who was very instrumental in getting me involved with the stage band,” Taylor said. “I played the piano and bass, and he changed me over to various other instruments. I ended up becoming the band director my senior year.”
In high school, Taylor acquired an interest in both art and film. He practiced shooting his band and was also involved in the high school newspaper.
“I became a Christian my junior year of high school, and I decided to pursue some kind of ministry and went to Dallas Baptist University. During the summer of the first year, I met a couple of guys who were touring artist and one of them was Gene Cotton out of Nashville,” Taylor explained. “Gene had a recording contract. He heard me play the piano and he asked me to go on tour with them and move to Nashville. I left college and went on the road with him for two years and promised my mom to go back to school and finish my degree.”
He returned to DBU and graduated with a degree in communication arts, film and t.v.
“After finishing college, Gene had another record deal. He was having a hit record at the time, and he asked me to move back, so I did. He consequently moved to Malibu, and I stayed and became concentrated on becoming a songwriter and studio musician. I did that for six years until I got offered a job from ZZ Top,” Taylor said.
While in Nashville, he picked up an interest in how recording contracts and how they worked. He found himself questioning Cotton about contracts frequently.
“As a result, he would tell me as much as he knew. I asked him one time if I could read his contract and it made sense to me. Then, another songwriter friend of mine was offered a contract and asked me to look at it,” Taylor explained. “I read through it and found out about a company called Copyright Consultants who consulted songwriters, publishers and record companies on copyright law.”
With questions raised regarding his friend's contract, he visited the company for some answers and got received much more than that.
“They told me I knew as much as or more than the people who worked there. They asked me to consider a career there, so I became a consultant. I told him I would consider the job for a year and I ended up staying three years because it was successful,” Taylor said. “I decided to do some stuff on my own and with his blessing, I started my own company, Wilde Silas Musicworks. I ended up developing four major bands and had production, publishing, and management all under that umbrella.”
Previously reported by the WDL, Taylor and ZZ Top manager, Bill Ham worked together in the early 1980’s. Taylor shared “I was a copyright consultant in Nashville and had come across some ZZ Top material that was overseas in some markets that was not collected. No one was collecting the money for the publishing. So I got in touch with Bill and told him what I had discovered. In so many words, he said ‘Can you run a publishing company.’ I said, ’Well yeah I actually can.’ He offered me a job and also made me vice president and general manager of his whole operation after I started working there.”
Spending too much time running the company and not enough time doing what he loved, making records, Taylor retired in 1994.
“I weeded out everything but the record and film side and became a freelancer,” Taylor said.
Since his so-called “partial” retirement Taylor has continued with his passion in all areas of the fine arts field including filming documentaries in foreign countries.
Preston ‘Park’ Cooper
The first and only author to be inducted into the Fine Arts Hall of Fame is WHS 1990 graduate, Dr. Preston Park Cooper. Over the course of his time at WHS he was a very active student who took an interest in math, science, French and English.
As told by his WHS Ex-students Association biography, “While at WHS, he loved to discuss, debate and dissect various works of literature. After graduation, Cooper headed to Lubbock, Texas and received a Bachelor and Master degree in English from Texas Tech University. He received his doctorate in Literature from Kent State University in 2006.”
Dr. Cooper currently serves as a full-time English professor at Austin Community College
“He has written and co-written numerous science fiction novels, academic papers, books and book reviews. He has been nominated for the ACC Teaching Excellence Award and received the Nobel Teacher Appreciation prize in 2004.”
In addition to teaching, Parker is also the co-owner and manager of Wicker Man Studios in Austin.
The Fine Arts Hall of Fame will take place on Saturday, Dec. 10 at 7:00 p.m. at the WHS Fine Arts Auditorium. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at http://waxahachieexstudents.org/Support.html.
Kelsey Poynor, @KPoynor_WDL