ABILENE Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – From 1979 to 1994 you couldn’t mention the “Awesome Cooper Band” without mentioning Jack and Donna Nall.
“You knew that he cared and you knew that he truly wanted to get the best out of you,” said ’88-92 band member Pearl Gonzales.
“He demanded excellence, but it’s something that we’ve all been shaped from and molded from and it’s made us better people,” said ’84-86 band member Lois Haynes.
With eight trips to state marching competition and highly regarded performances, even Jack’s kids knew where his heart was.
“The band hall was my second home. If we were gonna go see Dad, we were gonna see him at the band hall,” says ’94-97 Cooper band member and Jack’s son, Shane Nall.
Jack says that he felt the kids at Cooper were primed for success when he first met them in ’79. Even so, there was work to be done.
“It was a lot of fun for me and a lot of fun for them, but it was a lot of work for both of us,” Jack said. “They were not used to routines and getting to band on time and things like that. That just takes a while.”
Mr. Nall quickly became a household name among the students.
“We had a lot of fun, we worked, we sweated, we shed a lot of tears, but we worked really hard,” said ’84-86 band member Rhonda Harris.
But for all the tears, each and every student learned something that would last them a lifetime, like Pearl Gonzales, who found a lifelong career while in the Awesome Cooper Band.
“As a band director now, I find myself modeling so many things that I learned from him in high school,” Gonzales said.
Now students spanning each year of Jack’s tenure at Cooper are coming home for a reunion, remembering the times they shared and establishing the Jack Nall Scholarship.
“It’s a magnificent thing and I’m so proud, I just can’t wait to see some of them. It’s been so long, 1979’s a long time ago,” said Jack.
The scholarship will be available to graduating Cooper High students through the Abilene Community Foundation.
“My Mom’s, Dad’s and brother’s profession are all music based and they want to see it continue,” Shane Nall said. “College isn’t getting any cheaper,it would be nice to have some money in the pocket of a dedicated young person in the music field.”
Former students and band mates will travel from all over the country for this two day (23rd-24th) reunion.
“Knowing the culture that was developed from 1979-1994, I didn’t expect anything less,” said Shane.
The scholarship is open to donations on the Abilene Community Foundation website.