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  1. New format coming!

    April 11, 2006 by Gene

    [Webmaster here: we’re changing up the format some. In the interim, here are some of his past stories for you to read:

    We’ll try to make it easier for Coach to post more than once every year or two!]


    September 13, 2004 by Gene

    OH BOY, I thought changing this web site monthly would be a piece of cake. Retirement has affected my life in many ways. Deadlines and burning the candle at both ends have been transformed into – there is always tomorrow!

    Our lives have been blessed in so many ways this past year and yet our families in Illinois are experiencing serious health problems and are a constant concern.

    2003 ended in a flurry as Stacy and Michael moved in with us after Thanksgiving while their new home was being finished. As two deadlines for moving into their home passed, Abigail Dawn was born on December 8 and it was great having her in our home for the first month of her life. Then on February 23 we had the addition of Hudson Riley, Chad and April’s third child. Both new grandchildren have provided great enjoyment for ma ma and pa pa!

    Early in January I received a call that my younger sister in Peoria, Illinois was to have surgery for stomach cancer. Unfortunately at this point in time she has not had a piece of solid food for nine months and after much chemo and the finding of additional cancers, she continues fighting the good fight. She has great faith in the Lord and receives incredible support and prayers from her family and friends.

    Karen missed the birth of Hudson as she spent three weeks at home in Illinois with her 94 year old mother, who passed away on February 24 after a rich life. About that time, Karen’s older sister was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and after two surgeries is hopefully doing well as she receives treatment. Karen and I both regret not being closer to our sisters and my mother.


    After three months of retirement I began to feel guilty for not missing the University one little bit! I have discovered that the reason was that I had no apprehension or doubts about the direction the Pride would take under Brian Britt’s leadership. It has been obvious that Bill and Brian have made numerous changes to the overall band department. When a program has taken one direction for 30 years, changes are expected and necessary to move the program forward.

    I know a great deal of work has gone into the planning of the 2004 Homecoming and Centennial Celebration for the Pride. Kudos go to both the University Band Staff and the Band Alumni officers.

    After the Houston game, I saw Judy and Jack Foote. They will not be able to attend homecoming;however, informed me that Kay Braught will be in Norman for the weekend. Hopefully Karen and I will see many friends and former students Friday night and Saturday for all the festivities.


    Many of you keep asking about Roland. When I made my decision to retire, one of my major concerns was that Roland could remain at OU and utilize his new doctorate to benefit of the School of Music and the University.

    In addition to his position with the Theory/Composition Faculty, Roland continues arranging for the Pride of Oklahoma. He teaches fifth semester theory, counterpoint, two 20th century graduate theory courses, and has just begun to teach undergraduate composition. He has just signed an exclusive contract with FJH Publications in Ft. Lauderdale, FL for six compositions a year. Roland informs me that the School of Music has just placed him on a three year tenure track which is most exciting for him.

    Roland and Marie have built a new home in northwest Norman. Get out your Christmas card list. Their new address is 3339 Teton Circle – Norman, OK – 73072.

    Emily is now in the 5th grade and is a gymnastics enthusiast. She is level 6 and trains 5 days a week for 3 hours each day. She is starting orchestra next week.

    Jesse and Ben are in 2nd grade. Jesse, like Emily is in gymnastics and is level 4 training eight hours a week. Ben is playing soccer but really likes basketball. All three are playing the piano.

    Although I do not see the Barretts often I have fond memories of the time Roland spent with the Pride. There is no doubt we could not have made the strides we made without his expertise. energy, and love for our program. I know many of you agree and have wondered how he is doing.


    David & Brian on Ladder: OU/Houston game combined band rehearsal

    Saturday, September 11, two OU graduates and Pride members, Brian Britt (’87), Director of the Pride and David Bertman (’87), Director of the Cougar Marching Band brought their bands together for an extremely memorable day. I was so proud to observe two former students who represented their alma mater in such a class manner. The bands rehearsed separately at noon and at 1:30 were brought together to rehearse a finale for the evening halftime. Roland Barrett arranged a medley of “Taps, Amazing Grace and America” which was a moving climax to a halftime on the third anniversary of 9/11. The final measures of the medley could not be heard over the applause of the Sooner fans.

    Brian, Coach, & David 2: Brian Britt, Coach, and David Bertman (L) Brian Britt, Coach, and David Bertman

    Mark McGahey(OU ’88) a Pride member with Brian and David is now the Director of Bands at Keller High School in Keller, Texas. In 2000 Mark’s band was selected the 4A Honor Band in the State of Texas and performed at the Texas Music Educators Convention.

    Brian, David, Coach, & Mark 3: Brian, David, Coach, & Mark at combine rehearsal (L) Brian Britt, David Bertman, Coach, Mark McGahey

    CONGRATULATIONS to Brian, David, and Mark.


    After considering the illnesses of our sisters and having two new grandchildren, we decided to go ahead with plans to take the second trip of our dreams. In 2001 we spent two months in New England and this June 28 we departed for a nine week trip to the great northwest.

    Tyson (our nine and a half year old boxer) absolutely loved to travel with us. When I pulled the RV in the driveway, he knew what was about to happen and I could not turn around without him on my heels. Karen and I debated, but decided to take him on our northwest trip. He contracted rocky mountain fever and four days prior to our trip we were forced to put him to sleep. It is unbelievable how much one loves a pet and how much it can affect us when they are gone. It is still hard to accept that he is no longer with us.

    We first traveled to Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse monuments in South Dakota. Then down across Wyoming to Jackson Hole, up to Yellowstone, and on to Glacier National Park. We would strongly urge anyone taking the “Road to the Sun” at Glacier, to cross the border and visit Waterton, Alberta. It is gorgeous!

    We crossed the Canadian border and ten miles from Calgary a spring on our 5th wheel broke and the entire unit had to be placed on a flat bed and transported to Calgary. Being Saturday of the last weekend of the Calgary Stampede we discovered there was not one “room at the inn.” We spent the entire weekend in the parking lot of Standens, the only company in Canada that makes springs. After a $350 tow, a $295 tire, and the cost of a new spring, we were on our way on Monday morning.

    HaRV on flatbed: HaRV on Flatbed in Calgary Now this is a real tow!

    If you have not been to Banff, Alberta it is another “don’t miss.” After ten days crossing the Canadian Rockies, we visited Dondi Cupp (former Pride drum major) and Ann Hardin Shahi in Seattle where we received the “cook”s tour. Then to Portland to visit old friends Lloyd and Kay Robbins who wined and dined us for three days while seeing the city. We then spent a relaxing week on the Oregon coast. Another “don’t miss” is Crater Lake in southern Oregon. We spent three days in Bend, OR and if we had to move from Norman, Bend might be the city we would choose. It is the size of Norman without the University, surrounded by mountains, has great fishing and ideal weather. Unfortunately, I raised up and hit my head on the bedroom slide and I had to have five stitches above my right eye. It was a really stupid move!

    Crater Lake: Crater Lake, OR Crater Lake in southern Oregon

    We then crossed Oregon, southern Idaho, and stayed three days in Salt Lake City. On to southern Utah to Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park and the north rim of the Grand Canyon. After three days in Flagstaff and a visit to Sedona, we headed home. We left a day after Brayden’s third birthday and arrived home two days before Shelby’s sixth birthday and the opening of the Sooner football season.

    G&K in Portland 3: I found it much easier to go the nine weeks without shaving. The question now is how long the beard will last!


    Pa Pa w/Hudson & Abby: Pa Pa w/Hudson & Abby Pa Pa referees small dispute between Hudson (6 months) and Abby (8 months)

    Abby 4th - 2: Abby (6 months) on July 4th

    Shelby/Bray - fountain: Shelby & Brayden at OU Fountain Shelby (6) and Brayden (3) on the OU campus

    Shelby on wal 3: Shelby poses on OU South Oval

    Brayden on campus 2: Brayden – this is the real Bray!

    Tyson & Abby: Tyson & Abby Tyson with Abby (6 months)

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  3. Photo Album

    February 2, 2003 by Gene

    Family 2: Family at Christmas 2002

    Family Christmas morning 2002

    Mom & KIds: Bernice and Kids - Christmas '02

    Bernice and Kids (minus Shelby who was in a less that good mood for photos) at Christmas 2002

    Brayden & MaMa: Brayden and MaMa reading Christmas Morning

    Brayden (18 months) and MaMa reading Christmas morning.

    Shelby: Shelby (age 4) Christmas Morning

    Shelby (age 4) Christmas Morning

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  4. January Update

    January 29, 2003 by Gene

    NEW YEAR’S GREETINGS from the Thrailkills of Oklahoma!

    Family Photo:

    For those of you who have families, the image of walking into a photography studio with six adults, two children, and four dogs might be somewhat amusing. To be honest, our photographer almost had a coronary. Actually, considering the whole scenario, it went quite well (the dogs were better behaved than we humans). After the first pose we were asked if we wished additional poses. The response of “you have got to be kidding” was unanimous!

    For those of you not acquainted with the Thrailkill clan, let me introduce you: Far left is Shelby (3), Brayden (7 mo) April and Chad – Top is Stacy holding Kate (1) – Far right is Dawn and Frazier (5). Karen is holding Ally (1 – also Stacy’s) and to the right, Gene and almost unseen is Tyson (7).

    We had a great holiday season and a joyous Christmas together. This was the first holiday season in 31 years (Thanksgiving and Christmas) that we have not had students with us for dinner. It did seem strange and although we missed having them, it was very nice having just family. Shelby, excited and very aware this year, informed me early Christmas morning via telephone conversation that “mommy and daddy told me Santa was here but I didn’t hear him.” When asked if she left cookies and milk for Santa, the reply was “no, he likes coke!”


    Karen and I weighed taking the RV to Dallas for the Cotton Bowl Game; however, I had an Honor Band to conduct in Tahlequah on Jan. 4th. We decided to just enjoy the holidays at home and sit in front of the TV with a plate of eggs, hashed browns and sausage and our feet up instead of dealing with the 35 degree temperature at a 10:00 a.m. kickoff. Great game!!!


    If you are not living in Oklahoma, you can not begin to understand the media frenzy we endured when Steve Spurrier resigned at Florida and Bob Stoops was the heir apparent. I was one of the few that felt he would stay at Oklahoma but everyone else had him leaving, which made for a bad five days. The University and State of Oklahoma had embraced him strongly with not only salary but great support. In Florida he would have been just another football coach and in Oklahoma he is KING! There was a cartoon in the State newspapers with an image of the University President stating that certain concessions were made to keep Stoops at OU. There was a sign in the background indicating – University of BOBlahoma! Nuff said.

    HaRV Photo: This is HaRV


    Do you remember the saga of our new Ford F350 catching fire while I was adjudicating a marching band contest in Springfield, MO in late October? After 35 days with a rental car, I drove the five hours to Springfield, returned to Norman, and went straight to the Ford dealer. Fortunately, due to Ford Motor Company and especially Reynolds Ford in Norman, we are now the recipients of an identical 2002 truck. To make a long story short, the deal allowed me to take possession with no money out of pocket and due to the 4.9% financing, our payments are $60 per month less. Actually, it is as if I leased a truck for one year and 15,000 miles. So we are ready to resume our travels, first with a trip to south Texas (Weslaco) to visit Gene and Kay Braught (and enjoy the sun, pick fruit, see a little of Mexico, etc.). We will not be gone more than a couple of weeks – can’t miss more than two of Chad’s basketball games. The season will be over too soon as it is.

    We have many plans for the next few months but that will come in the next installment of the Thrailkills of Oklahoma… Thanks for checking us out!


    June 29, 2002 by Gene

    OH BOY, I thought changing this web site monthly would be a piece of cake. Retirement has affected my life in many ways. Deadlines and burning the candle at both ends have been transformed into – there is always tomorrow! Everyone assumes that I fish every day; however, I have only fished five times this spring. The question I keep getting is “what do you do all day.” I can never come up with a specific answer but my days are filled without any problem.


    So much has happened since the beginning of the new year I don’t know where to start.




    In January we found 10 days during which we could leave town and miss only one of Chad’s Norman North ball games. For 16 years we have promised Gene and Kay Braught that we would visit them, so we headed south to Weslaco, TX. Gene just finished his 10th year as mayor of Weslaco and those of you who know Gene and Kay, understand when we tell you “Red Carpet/VIP.” hospitality was extended to us. We toured “the valley.” and crossed over into Mexico with two great guides. Even had a Mexican meal or two or three or…!

    Gene and Kay were in Norman recently and celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. They are staying in Weslaco and have purchased a new condo that is perfect for their needs today. For those who might wish to contact them, their address is: 1204 S. Border #608 – Weslaco, TX 78956.


    Gene/Kay Braught: Gene and Kay Braught at Mexican restaurant.

    While in Weslaco, Gene and Kay took us to Harlingen where we had dinner with Jim and Pat Keltner. Jim was a member of the Pride in 1976 & ’77 and graduataed with a Bachelor of Music Education in 1979. Since that date he has been highly successful with his bands in Harlingen. Pat was in the Pride Flag Corps in 1977 but motherhood did not allow her to finish her degree at OU. She also works in the Halingen Public Schools. While there, Jim and I “wet a line” in the gulf and had a great day together. Pat and Jim’s son Benjamin is finishing a music education degree at UT and has been a member of the Longhorn Band. That was a hot topic of conversation during our visit. I am certain that if Benjamin is anything like his father and has inherited the “Sooner traits” he will be a fine educator regardless of his present loyalties.


    In addition to our trip to Weslaco in January, we have traveled home to Washington, Illinois twice this spring. I did a honor band at Bradley University in April. We took “HaRV” which made it convenient for Karen to go. We spent time with our mothers and family members. In June we returned to Washington for the Ebert family reunion.


    Chad had a great year with his boys’ team at Norman North. In a year when he thought they “might win three games,” the team won 15 games (highest in school history) and won the regional tournament. They came within one game of going to the State tournament again.

    While we were in Illinois we called home and were told an article in the morning paper stated that Chad had resigned his position and had given no information on where he was headed. For an update go to:


    Chad’s new position


    Stacy has announced that she and her “significant other” have decided to marry. At first the wedding was to be next April; however, the date has been changed to New Years Eve. I don’t know if I can stay up that late but somehow I think I will make it. Needless to say, Karen and I are very excited and very happy for Stacy.

    Michael Wehrenberg is a fine young man from Kingfisher. They work together in the University Media Department at OU. Stacy is Office Manager and Michael is Production Manager for the student newspaper. Michael has a great sense of humor and we decided if he can be around the Thrailkill clan for a few months and still wants to go through with this, he has our blessing.


    I have had great time planning a 58-day tour of New England. Those of you who have traveled with me realize my itinerary will be planned down to the minute. Neither Karen or I have been back east and look forward with great anticipation to seeing the beauty of the east coast and all the historical sites. The major question is, how will Karen take to being away from our grandchildren for that period of time. And speaking of grandchildren…

    Shelby will be four on September 2 and Brayden just celebrated his first birthday June 26. Naturally we are not too proud of them. Maw Maw and Pa Pa just purchased a new toy – a digital camera! You can plan on more photos on this web site in the future.

    Shelby in Pool: Brayden Age 1: Does this not tell you he is "all boy?"

    A SPECIAL THANK YOU NOTE in connection with my retirement. Click here

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  6. From Coach

    January 21, 2002 by Gene

    To Those Who Contributed to
    My Retirement Gift

    A most sincere


    Originally, I intended to write each of you a personal note to express my humble appreciation for your generous contribution to the gift upon my retirement, but it would have been a difficult proposition in many ways. I do wish for those students who originated the idea for the gift and worked so tirelessly, to understand how much their efforts mean to me. I sincerely hope this thank you will eventually reach everyone who contributed.

    Someday I hope to have the opportunity to show you the 5th wheel and Ford truck your contribution assisted us in purchasing! In the meantime, the photo on this site must suffice. I never thought I would see the day I would be “tooling around in a one ton” but I must admit that I really love it. Karen and I are truly enjoying our retirement, having the freedom to take off whenever the spirit moves us, the time to make improvements to our home, more opportunities to spend time with family, and to live without an alarm clock! I saw a great bumper sticker yesterday -“After you are over the hill, you really pick up speed!”

    Again, THANK YOU – not only for your monetary gift but for the gift of your friendship. My students have had such a lasting influence on my life, a fact that has become even more obvious to me since retirement. Please keep in touch – I look forward to hearing from all former students as well as our friends.

    Boomer Sooner – Coach

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  7. Thrailkill Update (11/4/01)

    November 4, 2001 by Gene

    Greetings from Norman!

    It seems as if Karen and I have been out of town the entire month of October. We had a great month and thought we would share some of our activities with you.

    First, Texas Weekend – How about those Sooners!!! We left home on Wednesday and traveled to a nice park in Arlington where we camped until Sunday. Took in movies, Grapevine Mills, Bass Pro Shop, visited with friends and in general had a great weekend. The worst part was getting into and out of the Fairgrounds. I suppose it is OK when the bus drops you off at the door but waiting an hour to get in/out and being parked in Waco (slight exaggeration) is not my idea of a fun time. I did not; however, miss the (misbehavin’ students) phone calls at 2:00 a.m. or up with the chickens for the pregame breakfast.

    The next trip was one of those “good news – bad news” weekends. I adjudicated for Jerry Hoover at Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield. Originally, we planned on pulling “HaRV” and going to Branson for a few days prior to the Saturday band competition. Since we were provided a comp room at the Residence Inn, we decided to leave HaRV at home, drive the truck and go a day early. While at the judges’ dinner on campus Friday night, our meal was interrupted by a graduate assistant who informed me that “your truck is on fire” – my immediate reply was “yeah right” but unfortunately the fire department, the police department, and half of Springfield were there to extinquish a fire that started 90 minutes after the truck was parked in the band building parking lot. It took one week for Ford to allow our insurance agent to even pop the hood and we are now in our fourth week and they tell us it may be ready in two more weeks. Then it will be a five hour trip back to Springfield to pick it up, drive it home, and see what Ford Motor Company has to say. Fortunately, Reynolds Ford in Norman has really been good and we are in hopes everything will be made right – to me that means a new 2002 truck!

    October 20th was Oklahoma Homecoming and it was fun to finally have the opportunity to actually spend some time with my former students. Watching the game from the end zone in the Alumni Band seats was different and how I got rooked into playing cymbals I still have not figured out. Fortunately Gene and Kay Braught were in Norman for the game but were unable to attend the alumni functions. Many alums asked about Gene and our thoughts were with both he and Kay. Kay celebrated her 80th birthday while in Norman that week.

    Driving a 2002 Ford Explorer furnished by Ford in lieu of our truck, we embarked upon another exciting weekend. This time, a trip to Athens, Ohio for Homecoming weekend at Ohio University. Karen and I have looked forward to this trip since being invited back by the Ohio University Band Society of Alumni and Friends last spring. WHAT A FANTASTIC WEEKEND!

    In 1967 I created what they now refer to as the “modern” marching band at Ohio U. We were treated like Royalty and renewed so many old acquaintences. It was very gratifying for us as the sweeping changes I made in 1967 have been continued and are now established tradition. The uniform, band jacket and insignias, pre-game, etc remain. How many times will that happen when a band changes directors four times in 34 years? We were on the front page of the student newspaper, the “Athens Messenger”, etc. all weekend. The student newspaper questioned why I changed the band to all male in ’67 – it took some manuevering to get around that one. I was asked “why” so many times and you know me – I can’t remember yesterday let alone why I did something 34 years ago.

    So now we are back in Norman attempting to answer the 40 emails I have on my computer. In addition I have accepted the “honor” of chairing the grocery portion of the Norman Christmas Store. It is quite an undertaking and extremely uplifting. This Christmas Store is a County project which enables approximately 500 needy families to “shop” for gifts and food for Christmas. In addition to each family receiving a ham or turkey, flour, sugar, and fruit we will sort over 30,000 items of canned goods donated by the community.

    So all in all, we are fine. Looking forward to having our mothers here (Gene’s 87 – Karen’s 92) from Illinois for Thanksgiving. Naturally they will get to spend some time with their two great grandchildren. It is going to seem strange not having band students at the house this year for Thanksgiving dinner.

    BE PATIENT – We are still working on placing photos on this site.

    Stay tuned and Send me mail if you have time. Not just a joke – I want to hear where you are, what you are doing since I last saw you, and family information (photos are encouraged).

    GOD Bless you and yours in this upcoming holiday season!

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