Former A&M, Mexia band director Joe Tom Haney dies at 88

Former Texas A&M Band Director Col. Joe Tom Haney. (File)
Former Texas A&M Band Director Col. Joe Tom Haney. (File)(KWTX)
Published: Mar. 10, 2016 at 10:38 AM CST
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Former Texas A&M Band Director Col. Joe Tom Haney has passed away at 88.

Col. Haney, as he is known to thousands of former Aggie band members was director of the Aggie Band from 1973 to 1989 and wrote the signature song "Noble Men of Kyle", which is played numerous times during Aggie games.

"The Noble Men of Kyle was written in 1972,” he recalled once in an interview,”and the first time they played it they didn't like it so I went back to the drawing board and I rewrote the first string. They seemed to like it then and now they play it I guess, six, seven or eight times a game.”

Haney was born in Colorado City on Aug.19, 1927 to Clyde and Vista Mae Haney.

After his father died unexpectedly, Haney and his mother moved to Marlin where she became a bookkeeper and wrote children's plays for a local Presbyterian school.

That's how Haney got his first opportunity to write music for her rhyming lyrics.

Haney started playing trombone in sixth grade.

After one year of private lessons, he was selected for the Marlin High School Band.

After graduating from high school in 1944, he entered Texas A&M and the Aggie Band.

He was there for only a semester before being drafted into the Army where he served fourteen months in Korea and played first trombone in the 282nd AGF Band in Seoul.

Haney was honorably discharge in 1947 and graduated with a bachelor of music degree at SMU in 1950 and got his master's degree in 1954 from Sam Houston State University.

For his first position as a band director, he started in the small town of Hemphill, which had no band hall, no instruments, no music, no uniforms and few students.

In 1951, the Hemphill High School Band played its first concert.

In the fall of 1951, Haney moved to Calvert where his band earned first division ratings in both concert and sight-reading.

He then moved to Wharton as junior high band director where his band earned first division ratings.

Then a Mexia High School band job became available.

The Black Cat Band earned two first divisions at the UIL contest in the spring of '57 and won its first Sweepstakes the following year.

Haney stayed in Mexia for the next sixteen years.

Then in 1972, Haney was invited to become the associate director of the Texas Aggie Band at Texas A&M University.

Sensing the need of other students who did not want to be in the Corps, Haney organized the Texas A&M University Symphonic Band in 1973.

During the seventeen years Haney directed the Texas Aggie Band, his bands made eight bowl performances, marched in the inaugural parade of President George Bush and performed at the inaugurations of several Texas Governors.

His arrangement of "The Spirit of Aggieland" has been performed by the Aggie Band at all football games since 1968.

"The Colonel," as he is respectfully known by Aggie bandsmen, was honored with the Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award and the BMI Music in Sports Award.

A ceremony unveiled a permanent plaque on the Aggie Band Drill Field which officially named it the Joe T. Haney Drill Field.

At pre-game ceremonies of a football game, he was promoted to full colonel by the Texas State Guard from which he retired after sixteen years of service.

When Haney retired, the Texas A&M Board of Regents bestowed upon him the title of Director Emeritus of the Fighting Texas Aggie Band.