‘It was a very special time’

Marching Raider Band Alumni Night a success

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* Photo gallery – more than 400 pics!

ROCKINGHAM — Its members don’t travel as far today, nor do they represent in as large a force as they did in the mid-1970s.

But there is so very much to be proud of the Richmond Marching Raiders. And above anyone else, S.L. Starcher should know. The Raiders band director from 1973 through 1976, Starcher oversaw an award-winning program that grew to 175 members and drew regional attention to the green and gold.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com S.L. Starcher, right, was Raiders band director from 1973 through 1976 and traveled from Florida to attend Friday night's band Alumni Night.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
S.L. Starcher, right, was Raiders band director from 1973 through 1976 and traveled from Florida to attend Friday night’s band Alumni Night.

On Friday night, those memories came flooding back for Starcher and dozens of others as band director Mike Ward and a host of volunteers organized the inaugural Alumni Night for former Marching Raiders. It was, in a phrase, worth it.

“Yeah,” said Class of 1999 band member Tommy Stovall, now the band director at West Bladen High School. “Absolutely.”

Ward, along with Lisa McLendon, Randy Stubbs, Gus Bellamy and others, used the power of social media to connect with former Raiders from across the country to make the night special. Ward did his part, allowing the former Raiders — with borrowed instruments from Stovall’s program — to be on the field one more time to play, among other things, the Raiders fight song.

The era known as Starcher’s Marchers, said Starcher, now a resident of Sarasota, Fla., “was a very special time.”

“This band is so dear to my heart,” Starcher said, dressed in all black to capture the seriousness of the evening. “Why wouldn’t you come?”

Charles Morrison, who hadn’t played the tuba in 24 years, agreed.

“Why not,” asked  Morrison, a member of the Class of 1990. “Bring it on.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Tenor drum player Jerry Tilley, Class of 1998, still lives in Richmond County. He hadn’t played the tenors in about 18 years, he said, and from what he’s now used to, it’s “completely different.”

At halftime, though, Tilley said he figured it was much like riding a bike.

“You never really forget,” he said.

And that was sort of the point. Along with the goal of inspiring the band members of today, the adults wanted to ensure today’s Marching Raiders that they are sharing experiences now that they will carry with them for years to come.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Filed in: Arts & Entertainment, Education, Featured News, Latest Headlines, News

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  • Someleadsomefollow

    Not taking anything away from Starcher and his marchers let’s not forget the first band director of the Marching Raiders, the late David Doolittle. He was also a great band director leading the band to many awards.
    Marching Raider of 72-73

    • Lisa McLendon

      Sir / Ma’am,

      Mr. Starcher made a beautiful speech that brought all of us to tears regarding Dr. Doolittle. Dr. Doolittle’s daughter was there to hear for herself and we ALL made sure that Dr. Doolittle was not forgotten, nor will he ever be as long as we share our memories. Dr. Doolittle was given all the credit for structuring the Marching Raider Band and its success. We had the first drum major from the Marching Raiders in attendance (72/73) as well as another Alum from the same year. I am not certain if either were present when Mr. Starcher made his speech, but it was recorded. As long as the Alumni of the band will continue to share memories, Dr. Doolittle lives on within us. He set in place a program that inspired many of us in those early days to become Marching Raiders. Once a Marching Raider, ALWAYS A Marching Raider.

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