In the community

Nyssa News: Former band director coming to town on April 15

Former Nyssa School District band director Frank Turner will be in Nyssa Saturday, April 15, for a meet and greet with former band and community members from 1 to 4 p.m. at Thunderegg Coffee Company. 

Turner came to Nyssa in 1963 and had a tremendous impact on the students he taught. While he opened the door to music for many, he is most remembered for taking the Nyssa High School Band to the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade in 1964. 

While it was former band director Bob Q. Smith who submitted the original parade application in 1962, Turner trained the band for the grueling task of marching in the parade. As reported in the Nyssa Gate City Journal, he was “a graduate of UCLA and had marched in the Rose Parade before, so his knowledge of the area and parade conditions was particularly valuable.”

Dirick Nedry, one of 10 chaperones for the group, described the band marching on the seven-mile parade route. 

“All of the bands were completely tired out by the time they reached our spot on the parade route, so when the Nyssa kids came into sight still strutting and blowing it was a great thrill and relief – it was evident that the long hours of practice had paid off. Our drum majorette, Karon Hust, was in her bare feet and we had lost five girls on the way from heat exhaustion … but those who were left struck up the Nyssa fight song, went into their fast step march and finished in a blaze of glory.”

Ralph Carter, class of 1966, recalls marching and marching around town to get ready for the parade.  “I also remember watching a replay of the parade in which a TV broadcaster said there were 99 in the Nyssa Marching Band and since Nyssa is a small town in Oregon there is no one left in Nyssa, because they are all in the parade.  What a great time. Nyssa owes Frank Turner gratitude for putting Nyssa on the map.” 

Of the 22 bands in the parade that year, Nyssa was one of three bands outside the state of California.

Darlene (Orm) Williams, a 1969 grad, remembers Turner as “pretty good with that trumpet. He was a cool teacher.”

LaRae Mitchell, class of 1972, has great memories of that summer “marching around Nyssa.”

“We would take a break at Wilson’s grocery store and get snacks and drinks to have on the lawn behind the store. We went to be in parades like Meridian Dairy Days, Caldwell Night Rodeo, Emmett Cherry Festival. What a blast!” She also remembers Turner as a “great trumpet player,” saying “he could play most all the instruments enough to demonstrate each one for us.”

Scott Engstrom, a 1972 graduate, loved the band experience. “We were lucky in Nyssa to have such a talented and energetic band director. Great man!”

Everyone’s welcome to stop by Thunderegg Coffee, 125 Main St., to see the former band director and say thanks.

To have your Nyssa news in this column, contact Susan Barton at 541-372-5455 or [email protected].

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE – The Malheur Enterprise delivers quality local journalism – fair and accurate. You can read it any hour, any day with a digital subscription. Read it on your phone, your Tablet, your home computer. Clicksubscribe – $7.50 a month.