Past Troy University Sound of the South drum majors representing six decades reunited for Homecoming this year.
The reunion, which came at the urging of TROY Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., marked the first specific gathering of drum majors in Sound of the South history.
“Dr. Hawkins thought it would be a good idea to get the students who have led the band over the years back together,” said Associate Dean of the College of Education Dr. Kerry Palmer, a 1995 alumnus and former drum major. “In order to get that job, you get elected by the students and then direct the band for a period of time. Today, we have drum majors going all the way back to 1965, and it’s been really neat.”
Drum majors are elected each year by the Sound of the South to lead the band, a distinction that brings with it respect, admiration and big shoes to fill.
“We consider each other legends and have so many stories,” said Chris Walker, a 1988 alumnus. “It’s fantastic, because this is an idea many of us have kicked around. We’ve never been all together before. Since it hasn’t happened since 1965, I’m not sure it’s ever going to happen again.”
Walker took the opportunity to take a photo with the two drum majors who preceded him.
“We’ve always talked about how great it would be to all be together, and to have a chance to take that photo meant a lot,” he said.
Bryant Goss, whose son is now in the band, said those at the reunion share a special bond.
Beyond friendships, they’ve formed what they consider a family.
“The ones that came before me were all mentors, and the ones after me made very special and close relationships,” said Goss, a 1986 alumnus. “It’s fantastic. These people were such a big part of my life, the University was such a big part of my life, and it’s been great to come back and reunite with guys and girls I haven’t seen for years. It’s just great to be back with such wonderful people.”
Ron Mallory, who served as drum major in 1976, is half of the only father-daughter drum major legacy at the University.
“Band is like a family,” Mallory said. “Certainly during the years we were here, there were some service fraternities we were in, but for the most part, band was our life. [During the reunion] you just reminisce and go give everybody a big hug.”
The drum major who succeeded Mallory, Randal Myers, found himself admiring the many changes to campus.
Myers said the spirit of growth has always endured at TROY, continuing from the time when he and Mallory were students.
“The campus is always progressing, always moving forward,” he said. “They’re always building something and tearing something down. That’s remarkable. They were doing that when we were students, too. I think that’s a key to having your university not get old and outdated — constantly redoing and revamping.”
With state-of-the-art band facilities, major strides in campus beautification and tourist attractions such as the International Arts Center, the University leaves many of the alumni in awe.
“It’s amazing,” Goss said. “TROY was a great university when I was here, but to see all the development and the new upgrades, the growth in student population, it’s incredible and makes the alumni very proud.”