James H. Mills is a graduate of the University of South Carolina, receiving the Bachelor of Arts degree and Masters degrees in Music Education with numerous hours of additional course work beyond. Upon graduation, he served as band director in Columbia with Richland District One Schools before entering military service where he spent three years as a U.S. Army bandsman, attaining the rank of Seargeant (E-5). Jimmy started playing the baritone horn during a six-weeks summer program in the Sumter schools prior to fifth grade. He attended Crosswell Drive Elementary School, McLaurin Jr. H.S., and Edmunds High School where he was a band student of Edwin Litaker, James D. Pritchard, and Robert Simmons. His enjoyment and love of music led him without hesitation to choose teaching as a profession.
For twenty-five years, Mr. Mills served Lexington-Richland District Five as director of bands of the Chapin Schools, teaching fifth graders at Chapin Elementary, sixth through eighth graders at Chapin Middle, as well as at Chapin High School where his band was the recipient of numerous S.C. Band Directors Association O.P.A. awards. His marching bands consistently received “Superior” ratings, finished among the top five in their state classification twenty-two times, and twice were State Champions. The CHS band participated in the Lord Mayor of Westminster’s Parade in London in 1991 and 1997. The symphonic band traveled to festivals in Atlanta, Nashville, St. Louis, Philadelphia, the Festival of Champions in Panama City, and numerous other events. In 1995, the symphonic band took “best-in-class” honors at the Toronto Music Festival also receiving the Grand Championship Award.
Upon his retirement, Jim taught for four years at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School in Columbia. He currently serves as educational representative for Star Music Company’s Columbia locations, and continues to be active as an adjudicator and clinician. He is in his third year as conductor of the Sumter Community Concert Band, and for a number of years has served as conductor of the Columbia Summer Band and the Five Points Wild Irish.
Mr. Mills is a member of MENC, the S.C. Music Educators Association, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and is a past president of the S.C. chapter of Phi Beta Mu National Bandmasters Fraternity. As a member of S.C.B.D.A., he served on the Ethics, Concert, Solo and Ensemble, Marching, Region, and All-State Committees, hosted region band auditions and served as region and all-state chairman for a number of years. He is listed in “Who’s Who Among American Educators” and “Who’s Who in America. Other professional honors include the Sertoma Club “Service to Mankind” Award and the National Band Association’s “Citation of Excellence”.
Jim resides in Chapin where he is a member of Saint Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church. His son Brian, daughter-in-law Michelle, and grandson Preston also reside in Chapin, while his daughter Ashleigh is a resident of Greenville.
Robert E. Wertz, III is a native of Denmark, South Carolina and a 1967 graduate of Denmark-Olar High School where he was voted “Most Talented” by his peers. He began his musical training in fifth grade under the baton of Alton McCollum and continued under Bob Gillam and Buist Farmer. He served as Drum Major in the 11th and 12th grade and won the John Philip Sousa Award in his senior year.
Mr. Wertz continued his education at the University of South Carolina where he received a B.S. in Music Education in 1971 and a Master of Music Education degree in 1972. He served as a graduate assistant under the guidance of Dr. Arthur Fraser. He did his student teaching in 1970 at Airport High School under the direction of William E. Ackerman. While at USC he was a member of Sigma Nu Social Fraternity and was inducted into Pi Kappa Lambda, the national music honor society.
Robert Wertz began his teaching career at Lower Richland High School in Columbia. In his 4th and final year at the school he was selected as “Teacher of the Year” by the faculty. In 1976 Mr. Wertz began a successful 26 year stint as Director of Bands at Camden High School. In 1980 he won the prestigious ASBDA-Stanbury Award as the “Outstanding Young Band Director in South Carolina” and that same year he had a total of 14 students “seated” in the All-State Bands. Mr. Wertz has won various community service awards from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, and the Camden Jaycees. He is also an active church musician and brass arranger in the Camden area.
At Camden High School under Mr. Wertz’s direction the band won the Outstanding Performance Award a total of 21 times including a stretch of 18 in a row. The marching band at one time held a streak of 68 consecutive Superior ratings in all local, state, and national field show and parade competitions. The Wind Ensemble was a consistent recipient of Superior and Excellent Ratings for 24 years of his tenure.
In 1980 Mr. Wertz was a founding member of the Camden Community Concert Band and still serves as the Assistant Conductor. The band has presented well over 100 concerts in the Camden area and has performed at many prestigious conferences and clinics throughout the southeastern United States and in London, England. The band has commissioned works by Dick Goodwin, Warren Barker, Jim Curnow, and Robert Sheldon.
In March of 2005, Mr. Wertz was inducted into the Phi Beta Mu – National Bandmasters Fraternity – Hall of Fame. He actively follows the careers of many of his former students who have served the band profession and include Scott Smith, Susan Cox, Cissy Terlizzi, Kevin Smith, Carl Wylie, and Scott Rush.
Mr. Wertz has held memberships in the American School Band Directors Association, the National Band Association, Music Educators National Conference, Phi Beta Mu (State President-1983-85) and the South Carolina Band Directors Association. Mr. Wertz served on 5 of the 6 events committees of the SCBDA during his career including President of the association. Since his retirement in 2002 he has been employed by Custom Printwear in Lugoff, S.C. He is married to the former Annette George of Columbia, South Carolina and has two sons, Ryan and Drew.
Mr. Wertz humbly accepts this honor today in loving memory of his parents, the late Dot and Buster Wertz of Denmark, South Carolina. Like all band parents, they made many sacrifices to provide the very best for their son. They instilled the values and the work ethic that have brought him here today. They were indeed the wind beneath his wings.