When Magnolia High School band students return to class this month, they’ll be without the director who led them for two decades.
David Stuart Sr. retired in May.
Stuart was named “Arkansas Bandmaster of the Year” at the 2016 ABA Conference in Fort Smith. The event included a proclamation presented by Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders as “David O. Stuart Sr. Day” in that city in gratitude for Stuart’s contributions to the citizens of Arkansas through his dedication to his musical career.
The title of “Arkansas Bandmaster of the Year” was for lifetime achievement. Qualifications include notable service in state organizations, consistent outstanding bands and quality performances, positive attitude toward the profession, outstanding character and leadership trait, service as a mentor or role model for Arkansas band directors, and contributions to the growth of children through school and community.
Stuart started his musical journey as a trombone player in the Little Rock Parkview Band under director Robert Martin.
He attended Arkansas Tech University for one year, then completed his music education degree at the University of Arkansas-Monticello. He completed his master’s degree in instrumental conducting at the University of Central Arkansas in 1997. He earned his master’s in public school administration and education leadership at Southern Arkansas University in 2012.
Stuart began his teaching career in Fordyce from 1983-1985. He was at Sylvan Hills from 1985-1992, and at Malvern from 1992-1999.
The Magnolia School District hired Stuart as band director in 1999.
All three of his children – David Jr. and twins Bridgette and Brittany -- chose to pursue careers in education.
David Stuart Jr. put the influence of his father into words during the elder Stuart’s final band concert at Magnolia High.
“My dad’s attitude toward his band made a deep impression upon his three children. We learned that a career doesn’t have to mean working mindlessly for a paycheck. We learned that a job can be something you look forward to every day, something you take pride in, something you truly love.
“We learned that it is possible to do something for 36 years and have the same excitement for year 36 as you did in year 1.
“Fathers do a lot of teaching, but perhaps one of my dad’s greatest lessons to us was unintentional. He showed us that a career can be a passion and that working with students is the most meaningful and rewarding way to spend your life’s work,” David Jr. said.
“David Stuart has modeled what it really means to place family first. He never lost his perspective on life and the things that matter most. My dad’s first efforts were always toward his family. There were things that he shared to his children when they were young that they later came to learn and respect: Take care of family, have an opinion but make sure it is thought out,” David Jr. said.
In addition to his children and wife Dorothy, Stuart has three grandchildren, Jace Gibson, Tyson Stuart, and Michael Hicks III.
He's also quite fond of his "toy,” a Chevrolet Corvette.