Heather Petznick Pickett is the daughter of Hal and Carol Petznick and was raised in Belton, Missouri, a suburb of Kansas City. Her father was a Sergeant in the United States Air Force and is a Vietnam War Veteran. Ms. Pickett joined the Greater Kansas City American Legion Band as a saxophonist in 1998. She became the Conductor in April 2007 and is the first woman to hold that position.
Ms. Pickett studied saxophone and music education at the University of Missouri at Kansas City Conservatory of Music, graduating with a Bachelor of Music Education in 1995. She comes from a family with a rich musical background, including choral conductors; educators; pianists, guitarists, and vocalists of all styles; a sousaphonist; and a music historian. Her own musical accomplishments include participating in the Missouri All-State Band, the Missouri All-Collegiate Band, and the National Honors Concert Band, under the direction of Colonel John R. Bourgeois, USMC (Ret.), Director Emeritus of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band. She also taught middle school band for five years and private woodwind lessons for ten years.
After graduating from the Conservatory, Ms. Pickett studied law at UMKC and graduated with her Juris Doctor in December 1997. She has been practicing products-liability law in Kansas City since 1998 at Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P. The last man in the firm’s name is of course Charles L. Bacon, who was elected National Commander of the American Legion in 1961 and was actively involved in the American Legion on the national and district levels until his death in 1989.
In addition to the American Legion Band, Ms. Pickett is also active in other Kansas City-area ensembles. She was previously the principal saxophonist in the Kansas City Wind Symphony. In 2002 she co-founded Midwest Winds, where she one of the musical directors and is principal saxophonist.
“Bachelor of Music Education from KU in 1965, did graduate work through 1970. Taught music in Horton, Ks., Nallwood Jr. High and Shawnee Mission East High School. Directed choirs of Merriam Christian Church, Countryside Christian Church, Trinity Lutheran and Lutheran Church of the Resurrection. Member of Overland Park Civic Band, Lawrence City Band and the American Legion Band. Became direct of the American Legion Band 1989.
I was recruited to the band by Kermit Harper in the spring of 1984. Kermit remembered me from the Johnson County Civic Orchestra several years before and asked if I would consider playing with the band. I sat in the clarinet section through 1988, made the trips to Salt Lake City, New Orleans, skipped Cincinnati then went to San Antonio and Louisville as a player. During those years Mike Keirsey directed the band at all appearances except the national contest. Then Keith House would drive in during the month of August and prepare the band for contest. This was not working, so after Louisville, I discussed this with Jack and became the director in 1989.
These have been wonderful years for me–to know so many truly great people and to experience the growth in musical ability of the group. I have gotten to meet some of the outstanding people of our time–Sen. Bill Bradley, Joe Rosenthal, who took the Iwo Jima flag photograph, General Davis, Medal of Honor recipient for his leadership at the Chosin Reservoir in Korea (Roy Loban was there), Clifton Truman Daniels, the President’s grandson, Col. Paul Tibbits, who flew the Enola Gay and many local figures. My biggest regret is that we have not placed better in national contests. I know how well we played and have not been rewarded for it. Maybe the selection of new, qualified judges will change that.”
1965-1971 and 1976-1988, deceased
Keith House served as principal trumpet with the 41St and 24th U.S. Army Infantry Division Bands in the Philippines and Japan in WWII. Upon completing military service he enrolled at Central Methodist College in Fayette, Missouri and was graduated in 1949. He played principal cornet in the University of Michigan Band and received a Master of Music Education degree from The University of Kansas.
He taught band and choir in Hamilton and Lee’s Summit, Missouri schools, and then became band director at Central Methodist College where he taught for twenty-three years. He has directed bands at Missouri Music Educators Association (MMEA), Missouri Bandmasters Association (MBA) , The National Association for Music Education (MENC), Association of Concert Bands (ACB) and the American Legion Conventions. He played in and directed the Unity Band and played in other concert, dance and show bands and symphony orchestras while at Lee’s Summit. Professor House has guest conducted many high school, university and clinic bands as will as the U.S. Navy and US. Marine Bands in Washington, D.C.
Keith was recently honored by the Southwest Missouri State University Bands for distinguished service to Missouri bands. In 2002, he received an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Central Methodist College. He is currently in his fifteenth year asmusic director and conductor of the Columbia Community Band.
Keith has directed over 900 concerts in his career but he has been often heard saying “The most important concert is the next one.”
Courtesy of the Columbia Community Band
Mike Keirsey served as band director from 1984 to 1988. He was a junior high band director in Kansas City, Mo. Public Schools. During this time he could not attend the National Legion Conventions so arrangements were made to have Keith House from Fayette, Mo. to direct the band at National Conventions. Mike currently lives in Blue Springs, MO and is the representative for Yamaha, covering a four state area.
Al Hanna directed in 1975. He was music director at Shawnee Mission East School and Assistant Superintendent of the Blue Valley School District.
George Alter directed the band from 1972 to 1974. At the time he was Band director and taught at Southwest High School in Kansas City, Mo.
Kaid Fridel served as director from 1962 to 1964. He played French Horn in the K.C. Symphony and moved to join the St. Louis Symphony in 1965. When he retired from the St. Louis Symphony due to health reasons, Lester Schick’s daughter, Nancy, filled the chair.
James P. Kelly was director for the convention in 1961. During the early fifties he conducted the Overland Park Civic Band. Some of his library used by the Legion Band was very old. Many of the flute parts were written for D Flat Flutes and Piccolos. Some of the music was marked “Post Office Band”.
Dr. Otis Mumaw
Dr. Otis Mumaw directed the band from 1955 to 1959. He was choir director at the University of Kansas, a member of SAI, and director of many church choirs. He was an authority on “hand bells” and started many hand bell choirs in Kansas City.