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Estate bequeaths musical instruments and memorabilia to HPU band

Estate of Billy E. Ross Bequest, April 2016 for webBROWNWOOD – April 13, 2016 – Howard Payne University’s Yellow Jacket Band received two musical instruments as well as various music-related memorabilia that were bequeathed from the estate of Bill Edward Ross. The donations included a cornet and a banjo along with many historic photos of the HPU band.

Ross was a 1949 graduate of Howard Payne College, a former member of the Yellow Jacket Band and remained a supporter of the band until his death in 2015.

“Mr. Bill Ross is a great benefactor to the music department and especially through his support to the Yellow Jacket Band,” said Dr. Richard Fiese, dean of the School of Music and Fine Arts. “His legacy will remain a part of the history of the Yellow Jacket Band and his generosity will resonate into eternity through the difference he will make in the lives of students in the band.”

The cornet is a G.C. Conn made in 1899 and is an example of an instrument from the “Golden Era” of bands. The banjo was produced in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1961 and is a Vega professional tenor (four-string) banjo. It is from the personal collection of Ross.

The band also received a treasure trove of photographs relating to Ross’ career in the music industry as well as some of the earliest photographs the university has of the Yellow Jacket Band. Correspondence between Ross and Vincent Bach, instrument manufacturing icon, was also received from the estate.

“Bill Ross was an amazing friend and avid supporter of the HPU band,” said Corey Ash, associate professor of music and director of bands. “His legacy as a lover of music and bands in a music education and business career that spanned 60 years will live on in the lives of the students that he touched.”

Both instruments will be displayed permanently in the Davidson Music Complex at Howard Payne University along with the historic photographs and correspondence.

For more information, contact HPU’s School of Music and Fine Arts at 325-649-8500.

Applications are still being accepted for the fall 2016 semester at Howard Payne University. HPU offers a variety of financial aid options including the Heart of Texas Scholarship, which awards $60,000 to students from Brown County and surrounding counties. For more information about HPU, contact HPU’s Office of Admission at (325) 649-8020 or by e-mail at


Photo cutline: The HPU band was recently bequeathed two instruments and band memorabilia from the estate of Bill E. Ross. Pictured from left to right are: Aaron Walling, senior from Georgetown; Corey Ash, associate professor of music and director of bands; Dr. Richard Fiese, dean of the School of Music and Fine Arts; Thomas V. Scarpato, executor of the estate; and Olivia Belsher, senior from Ferris.