BRENTWOOD -- Allan Jones had a deep passion for music, sharing it over decades with countless students.
And, while the beloved educator has passed, his passion lives on through his pupils and devotion to teaching. Jones died on March 20. He was 83.
In 1957, the humble teacher grabbed hold of the Liberty High band program and didn't release his baton until 1984.
In that time, he and his musicians walked away with a wealth of trophies, blue ribbons, awards and accolades, including Teacher of the Year for Liberty and Contra Costa County in 1983.
And, then, in 1992, there was the small matter of the Brentwood school's theater complex being named the Allan E. Jones Performing Arts Center.
Sue Stuart, who worked with Jones, said he loved to teach and was never too busy to help any player improve, "never too busy to repair that instrument, never too busy to simply visit.
"I marveled at how many former students came by after graduating to say hello and catch up. It is a testament to Allan's teaching that many of his students continued on in college playing ... that is part of his legacy."
Stuart met Jones in 1969, and was hired by him in 1976. They worked together for eight years.
Of course, during their long relationship, Stuart gathered plenty of memories.
"My fondest (professionally) is when I got to team teach band with Allan during my second year at Liberty," she said. "I learned so much from him, as a musician, teacher and conductor. After he retired he continued to be a mentor to me, always attending my performances and giving me his 2 cents worth (for me, it was like a million dollars worth.)"
A graduate of Stockton High, Jones went on to earn a degree in music from the University of the Pacific. He played trombone for years with the Stockton Symphony Orchestra.
Although clearly respected and adored in East County, Stuart said the admiration goes much further, having founded the prestigious California Band Directors Association.
"He is renowned in band circles throughout this state and beyond," she said.
Always one to go above and beyond for the program, Allan is given credit for once helping raise $25,000 for new band uniforms.
Desiree (Short) Kaae was one of many Allan students turned fan. In his program during in the early '80s, Kaae served as band president.
"Mr. Jones expected nothing less than excellence from his students and that was apparent in the many superior ratings his bands received over the years," she said. "His capacity as a musician was enormous and his ability to instill his expertise and love of music into his students was extraordinary. He knew the potential of each and every student long before they did, and could expertly cultivate that potential to its highest yield. His students worked hard for him, because he worked hard for them." Jones instilled so much confidence he could persuade a teen she could move from trumpet to 30-pound sousaphone.
"He presented me with (that) challenge that I would have never imagined I could master.
"It was beyond my comprehension. But before I knew it, Mr. Jones, in his convincing way, had me wrapped snuggly in my sousaphone, and much to my amazement holding up the bass line. It was a great experience ... and I continued to play the tuba."
Stacie Maslen, now a teacher at Excelsior Middle in Byron, also had Jones in the early '80s and said, "He was a terrific teacher, who knew how to work with students, and the band always worked hard to please him."
Although Stuart always knew she'd be a teacher, choral directing wasn't on the list. "I thank Allan for trusting in me musically and otherwise to be able to handle a choral program. ... (His) faith in my abilities meant so much. I figured that if he said I could do it, then I was going to prove that I could."
Kaae said Jones had a "huge impact on me, both in fostering a love of music and in building leadership skills that I continue to carry with me today."
A Celebration of Life is set for 2 p.m. April 21, appropriately in the Allan E. Jones Performing Arts Center at Liberty, 850 Second St. in Brentwood.
Contact Trine Gallegos at firstname.lastname@example.org
A Celebration of Life is set for 2 p.m. April 21 in the Allan E. Jones Performing Arts Center at Liberty, 850 Second St. in Brentwood.