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Chayce Beckham

[WATCH] Simpkins family legacy honored with SCS Foundation’s 66th Chair

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SYLACAUGA, Ala. – In a celebration of a musical legacy spanning over seven decades, the Sylacauga City Schools (SCS) Foundation unveiled the 66th Chair, dedicated to honoring the Simpkins family.

Three generations of Simpkins men devoted more than 75 years to serving Sylacauga High School (SHS) as band directors, and their impact on the community was celebrated with great fanfare.

The inspiration for this special chair fundraising event came from the SHS Alumni Band, comprised of former students who were deeply touched by the Simpkins family’s dedication. Each Foundation chair represents a remarkable $25,000 in contributions.

The Simpkins musical dynasty began in 1940 when George Lewis “Fess” Simpkins took the reins as SHS band director, infusing the fledgling program with his passion for music. He affectionately dubbed the SHS band the “Half-Million Dollar Band,” an homage to the University of Alabama’s “Million Dollar Band.” Under his guidance, the SHS band became the pride of Sylacauga, gaining statewide fame.

Following Fess Simpkins’ retirement in 1972, his son, George Lewis “Buddy” Simpkins, Jr., carried on the family tradition as the SHS band director. A talented musician from a young age, Buddy played drums in his father’s jazz band by the time he was 12. His wife, Fay, also made significant contributions at SHS while teaching English.

During the 1970s and ’80s, the SHS band thrived under Buddy’s leadership, boasting up to 200 proud members each year. The love of music passed to the next generation as Buddy’s son, David Simpkins, followed in his father’s footsteps and earned a music degree from the University of Alabama in 1988 before taking over the Marching Aggie Band after Buddy’s retirement

As the legacy of the Simpkins Family Chair was celebrated, current members of the SHS Marching Aggie Band played “Hail to the Varsity” and the SHS Alma Mater in tribute. The event was attended by numerous alumni band members who had been influenced by the Simpkins family, echoing the sentiment that their music had created a symphony in the hearts of thousands.

Jane Vaughn, a Foundation board member and band alumna, summed it up beautifully, saying, “Sylacauga was blessed to have these three incredible men with a passion for music to guide, teach, encourage, and develop a symphony in our hearts.”

 


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