“B – E – A – R – S!”
If you’ve ever been to a football game — or been put on hold while on a Missouri State call — you’ve heard the university’s fight song.
Creating the tune that has inspired generations of Bears is just one of Jerry Hoover’s many achievements in his 31-year career as the MSU Pride Band’s director.
On May 10, 2016, the Foundation celebrated that legacy with a retirement reception.
Hoover’s lessons ‘too great to measure’
Longtime colleagues, band alumni, family and friends affectionately shared stories about the 80-year-old at the reception.
Dr. Belva Prather, associate band director and emeritus music professor, met Hoover for the first time at her job interview in 1986: “He flew in on a golf cart wearing a Mickey Mouse tie.”
She offered a behind-the-scenes view of the ensuing 30 years, like the time Hoover lost a band trophy. Fearing it ended up in the Dumpster, they set out quickly to find it.
“He said, ‘I’ll explain this to you: one of us will get in the Dumpster; the other will stay on the golf cart to be the lookout,’” she said. “Let’s just say I was known as the Dumpster Diver ever since.”
Hoover’s son, Doug Hoover, spoke of a dedicated and passionate teacher and father who always remembers to write Thank You cards. And alumnus Brian Burlingame characterized the lessons he learned from Hoover as “too great to measure.”
‘What a ride!’
Hoover recounted his own amusing stories during the event, like the time he and other staff smuggled band uniforms across the U.S.-Mexico border, and when they became the first American band to play at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
“Touching people’s hearts with music is a tremendous opportunity and tremendous responsibility,” he said.
The night would not have been complete without the Pride Band themselves. The fight song filled Wehr Band Hall just before a large cake with sparklers was wheeled in and confetti burst out over the crowd.
Listen to “The Scotsman,” Missouri State’s fight song:
It was a fitting farewell to this intrepid leader whose ending remarks of the evening — a Hunter S. Thompson quote — will forever remind us of why he is so beloved by Missouri State:
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a ride!’”
Help fund the Jerry Hoover Band Endowment
The Missouri State University Foundation created the Jerry Hoover Band Endowment to support the needs of the MSU Pride Band. Pay tribute to the founding band director by contributing to the fund online.