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COVINGTON, WELDON JOSEPH

COVINGTON, WELDON JOSEPH (1908-2000). Weldon Joseph Covington, acclaimed band director, was born on March 5, 1908, in Alvord, Texas. At the age of nine he was the pianist for the Baptist church in Alvord. His first job as a band director was in his junior year in Alvord High School, 1924–25. The school found itself without a band director, but students were interested in being in band. Covington asked the principal if he could direct the band, and the principal granted him permission. From there, he studied music at North Texas Agricultural College (now University of Texas at Arlington) and Simmons University (now Hardin-Simmons University) in Abilene, Texas, where he was an apprentice as musician and director. He received his B.A. in music from Simmons University in June 1931. He later engaged in further studies at Ithaca Conservatory of Music in New York.

His first teaching assignment after earning his degree was at Austin High School in the fall of 1931. While teaching at Austin High School, he met his future wife. Verna Young (born February 22, 1915) was one of his choir students. Once she graduated from high school, they started dating, married on August 24, 1933, and had two children. Verna Covington, who taught at Porter Junior High and Fulmore Junior High, eventually became the first woman band director in Texas. Her junior high bands won both state and national honors.

Weldon Covington was influential in the development of instrumental music programs in Austin Independent School District (AISD) during a rapid expansion of the city’s public schools. When he started in August 1931 as a music teacher at Austin High School, he had only eight band members, five orchestra members, and thirty choir members. In 1939 he wrote the musical score to the school’s song “Loyal Forever.” In 1940 he was asked to be the supervisor of AISD’s band and orchestra programs. He was significant in helping females to be allowed to participate in band in 1940 and helped build the music program at Reagan High School, bringing instrumental music to a predominately African-American school during the time of segregation. He received his M.A. in music from the University of Texas at Austin in 1946. Covington became the full-time Supervisor of Instrumental Music in 1953. He retired from AISD in 1973 but remained an active member of the Austin community.

Covington was involved with in instrumental music programs, not only in Austin, but across the state of Texas. In 1931 he became a member of the Texas Bandmasters Association, which later became the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) in 1938. At that time, all music competitions in Texas were controlled by TMEA. The year that Covington served as the president of TMEA (1947), the University Interscholastic League (UIL) took over all contest control.

Weldon Covington was well-respected and influential in the growth of instrumental programs across the state, and his many awards and honors prove it. In 1952 he was elected as a member of the American Bandmasters Association, placing him among the nation’s elite band directors. In 1981 he was inducted into TMEA’s Hall of Fame, as well as Austin High School’s Hall of Honor. In 1986 Covington Middle School in Austin was named after Weldon and his wife Verna for their many contributions to instrumental music education in AISD. In 1991 he and his wife were inducted into TMEA’s Phi Beta Mu’s Texas Bandmasters Hall of Fame.

Even after retirement, he remained active in AISD and enjoyed visiting with the students at Covington Middle School. Weldon Covington died in Austin, Texas, of heart failure on July 10, 2000. He was buried at Oliver Cemetery. Hi wife Verna died on December 29, 2005.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Austin American–Statesman, July 13, 2000. Henry Stanton Tuttle, Weldon Covington and the Development of Instrumental Music in the Austin, Texas, Public Schools (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1997). “Verna and Weldon Covington,” Texas Bandmasters Hall of Fame (http://www.pbmalpha.org/pbmhalloffamebio.php?HOF_Number=015), accessed August 24, 2010. “Weldon Covington – TMEA president, 1947–1948,” Texas Music Educators Association (http://www.tmea.org/about/past-presidents/weldon-covington), accessed August 24, 2010.

Susy Graves

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Susy Graves, "COVINGTON, WELDON JOSEPH," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fcofr), accessed December 20, 2014. Uploaded on June 25, 2014. Modified on September 1, 2014. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.