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Band celebrates 75 years in community

When Richard Humbert first joined the William F. Myers' Sons Band, the country was still in the throes of World War II. Now, 72 years later, Humbert is still playing trumpet regularly with the group, about to mark its 75th anniversary Sunday, May 18, with a celebratory concert.

Director Ben Messinger said he tried to capture the essence of the band's history when programming the music for the 75th anniversary concert.

"What's great about this concert is that the music is traveling through all of the periods of music that the band has lasted through all of the years," Messinger said. "It's sort of like traveling through and celebrating the band's history through music."

At the event, the band will perform 12 pieces, including classic marches, show tunes and modern numbers.

The Westminster-based band was founded in 1939 by Herbert, Oliver and Carroll Myers, the sons of William F. Myers, owner of a meatpacking and grocery store bearing his name and original sponsor of the group.

Humbert, whose grandparents worked for the meatpacking company, began marching with the group in 1942, when he was 6 years old. When he was 13, he started working at the company removing the casings from hot dogs to make skinless franks.

Humbert said playing with and eventually directing the band launched his career in music. For years, he taught music in Carroll schools, and was later employed by Stu's Music Shop in Westminster. Humbert said it can all be traced back to his participation in the Myers' band.

The group practiced in the Myers' plant, formerly located on Liberty Road, until the company was bought out by Hahn's in the 1980s, and they began to rehearse at William Winchester Elementary School. Despite the change in venue, the band continued as a community organization, performing at Memorial Day celebrations, carnivals and local festivals.

In addition to celebrating the history of music, three of the group's directors, Messinger, Humbert and Glenn Patterson, will be conducting pieces in the performance.

Patterson took over from the original director, Ed Gobrecht Sr., in 1965. He will be conducting the band during the "Kingswood Overture" and "Legionnaires on March."

"We've had some changes over the years. We started out as an all-male band, but pretty soon we turned into a co-ed organization," Patterson said. "It was just a great wholesome activity for families. It's a good thing that they still continue to do."

Throughout his 72 years with the band, Humbert said he has seen the group touch the lives of a number of musicians.

"When I was teaching, I used to bring a lot of my middle school students into the band," Humbert said. "It gives them an opportunity to do some community service, socialize with other band members and practice their craft. It's just such a great opportunity, and I'm glad we get to celebrate that it's still here."

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