Professor Ronald B. Thornton
Ronald Bernard Thornton was born March 23, 1949, in Houston, Texas. He was raised by his grandparents, the late Griffin Van and Luella Nina Lewis. He was the oldest of five children. His mother, Lanier Page, was born deaf. Ronald started playing the trumpet and cornet at church with his grandfather on Sundays. He also marched with the Masonic Lodge Band. His education began in the renowned Third Ward area beginning at Douglass Elementary, Ryan Jr. High and ending at the Mighty Jack Yates High School-Class of 1967. Ronald played taps over the loud speaker at Ryan on his cornet when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Before he left Ryan, he changed his instrument to trombone. At Yates, he remained 1st chair under the leadership of the late Will Henry Bennett. Upon graduation with the class of 1967, he attended Prairie View A&M University until 1969. Benjamin J. Butler, II recruited him to join the Texas Southern University Band, "Ocean of Soul". He was 1st chair trombonist, president of the band, student director and a member of the TSU Jazz Ensemble, under directors Lanny Steele and Howard Harris. He graduated in 1974, receiving Bachelor of Arts degree in music education. Ronald was an accomplished musician in his own right, trained in vocals, trumpet, euphonium and trombone. Ronald played 1st trombone in the Texas All State Intercollegiate Band under conductor Donald Hunsberger.
After seven years with Forest Brook High School, his professor, Benjamin J. Butler, II called him to join his staff at Texas Southern University as an assistant director. He did not hesitate to say yes because this person molded him to become a band director. If you ask his wife, she would say he’s his "Daddy." During his tenure from 1981-1988, he was responsible for the drill designs for half-time shows, was the recruiting coordinator for the band and was the low brass instructor. He was the sponsor of the Kappa Kappa Psi Fraternity and Tau Beta Sigma Sorority. After seven years at Texas Southern University, Mr. Thornton would leave Texas Southern University and assume the position as Head Director at Willowridge High School.
Some of Mr. Thornton’s accomplishments while band director at Willowridge include: Rose Bowl Parade leader 1994; Orange Bowl Parade 1996; Street Olympics 1993-2009; Veteran’s Day Parade 2001-2009; Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo 1993-2009; Mardi Gras Parade, Galveston 1993-2009; Houston Rockets Championship Parades 1997-2001; Division One rating UIL Marching Contest and Sight reading Contest; International Association of Jazz Educators 1996-2000; Juneteenth Parades, Austin and Houston;, University of Texas Jazz Festival - 1st Place 2001; Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York City 2001; Governor Rick Perry’s Inaugural Parade 2003; Annual "Summer Finale, Tobacco Blow-out! & Health Fare 2003"; 1st Place, Martin Luther King Battle of Bands 2004-2009, Band Movie Participant 2004 - Friday Night Lights, starring Billy Bob Thornton, The "Pan Pacific Parade" Honolulu, Hawaii 2005, President’s Award NAACP-Missouri City 2008 and Trailblazer Award for Educators from XI Alpha Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha. He also served as clinician throughout the Houston, Dallas, Austin, Beaumont and Louisiana areas.
Mr. Thornton was a member of numerous organizations, some of which include: Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Kappa Kappa Psi band fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha music fraternity, Pershing Rifles Military Fraternity, Phi Beta Mu International Bandmasters Fraternity, Tau Beta Sigma Band Sorority Honorary Member, Professional Musician Local 65, Texas Black Music Educators - Vice President, Texas Bandmasters Association, National Association of College Band Directors, Texas Music Educators Association, International Association of Jazz Educators, Texas Exes & The College of Education-The University of Texas.