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Remembering Charlie Black

The 1957 BCHS Marching Band

Beech Tree Media asked its readers to submit their memories/photos of former Morgantown Mayor and longtime BCHS Band Director Charles T. Black and the response has been tremendous.  Below are some of the comments that we've received thus far.  Please continue to send your comments/photos to [email protected].  We will add them to this post.

Remembering Charlie Black: by Michael Bova

I met Mr. Black in May of 1989, I had an interview to take over afternoons at WLBQ. I was hired and my original plan was to spend two years in Morgantown and then move to better my radio career. 10 years later I was still there. Thanks in large part to Charlie, Mary Alice, Jan and Mark. They treated me as one of their own and I look back with fond memories of my time spent in Morgantown. Some afternoons the phone would ring and I'd hear that distinctive voice on the other end "Michael" Charlie would start "Throw me on one of them Sousa marches". And I would. I would receive a history of Morgantown on drives out to the transmitter and some afternoons he would stop by to discuss the virtues of North Carolina basketball, of which there were many, according to Mr. Black. He always left me with the same words...."Carry on". I guess that's the best we can do, oh and throw on a Sousa march every now and then.
 

Mr B it's me Sandy that Oberhausen Girl! by Sandra Oberhausen

I have had the great pleasure of knowing Mr Black since the fall of 1975 when I made one of the greatest decisions in my life ...begging my Mom and Dad to let me join band.   I remember I tried the flute first but didn't like that, so I tried clarinet and away I went    For the next 8 years I worked my way from 3rd section to 2nd to 1st chair.   With Mr Black it wasn't about being better than anyone else but being  the best you could be and to take pride in yourself.

As many band members will recall, we marched in the heat of day -straight up noon- either on the football field or through town.  I can tell you it was one way to get in shape and have fun doing it, unless you pull what I did one day which was wear a dress and high heels and forget your marching shoes. I asked if I could sit out from march since I didn't have proper shoes, and I will never forget his telling me "Kid, your going to find out what marching in those heels are like today!"  That was the longest march through our little city ever.  I got a really good lesson on The World Wants Results Not Excuses  that day and also to leave an extra set of marching clothes and shoes at bandroom.

After I graduated from high school, Mr Black went from being my teacher and band director to becoming one of my dearest friends and mentors.  His friendship open the door for my  career with IMCO/Aleris back in 1989. Back then he was pursuing two companies to build in Morgantown and he asked me if I wanted a new job and I said maybe. He said one of the companies is going to manufacture rubber and the other aluminum. I said aluminum sounds more interesting to me, so he said, consider it done.

Within next months, he introduced me to the CEO and Plant Manager of IMCO/Aleris  as they sat in his car to go look at the property they acquired.  Shortly after, I received a phone interview and during the interview, the Plant Manager recited my entire history from 1975 to 1989 so there wasn't much to tell that they already didn't know from talking with Mr Black. Before the call was over they offered me the job.    It is one of the most fabulous stories of my life for I have worked for IMCO/Aleris since June 1989 and have achieved professional goals I never dreamed of, but that Mr Black always told us all we could achieve.   I owe my career to Mr B and I love telling this story of how the Mayor and band director of my hometown did all the selling of me to get my job with IMCO/Aleris.   My story is only one of many that read similar in what Mr Black has done for his Band kids!

Mr Black is the only person I allowed to call me Sandy throughout the years, for it never suited my fancy.  The last time I saw him I asked  do you remember me and he said your that Oberhausen girl!!  We had a good visit and when I got ready to leave he said thanks Sandy for coming to see me. It made my day to hear him call me that again.

Charles Black you are so loved! Your contributions to my life and others of Butler County have left a legacy no other will ever achieve.

Please save a seat for me in the clarinet section in Heaven...I can't wait to be in your band again someday!!

Remembering Charlie Black: by Kathy Thomason

For much of the last 15 years I have had the honor of working for the Blacks at the radio station.  Before meeting Mayor Black, I had heard so much about him that I was nervous and expecting this giant of a man to walk through the door.  I soon learned that although he was short in stature, he was a giant in spirit.  He was more full of fun and life than anyone I had ever met and had faith in me when I didn't have faith in myself.  He didn't regard the radio station as a business but as a community service and fought hard over the years to keep it a local station focused on local people and events.  When other stations were going to just music or just talk with DJ's hundreds of miles away, he made sure that we had friends and neighbors to hear every time we turned on our radio.  He was a huge sports fan and some of my fondest memories of my years here are of he and Mark doing commentary on local sports.  He leaves behind a legacy that most people only dream about, impacting hundreds of lives, inspiring many people to careers they wouldn't have had the courage to attempt otherwise and instilled a love of education and public service in his children, with daughter Jan following his footsteps in becoming a beloved educator and wonderful mother.  No matter what type of day he was having, he always came in the door with a smile and a joke for everyone and I will miss that smile and his wonderful story telling. 

 

Butler County has lost its biggest fan:  By Teresa Pendley

I was in Mr. Black's elementary  school band 3 years.  I learned much more than music there; respect, responsibility, courage (it took some courage to challenge someone for their seat), and, of course, the world wants results not excuses.  One vivid memory I have is an outing to Western to hear one of the armed forces bands play.  This was a pretty big deal for a bunch of country kids in the late '60's.  We were so excited.  You would have thought we were going to hear the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  The band played the National Anthem and we started to applaud.  Mr. Black was in front of  us waving and telling us to stop in about 1/2 a second.  Did you know you are not supposed to applaud the Anthem?  We certainly found out real quick and I have never forgotten.

Fast forward about 20 years and Mr. Black is now Mayor Black working diligently to bring jobs to Butler County.  Anyone (including me) that has ever enjoyed a meal on your table, clothes on your back, or a vehicle in your drive way purchased with wages earned at IMCO/Aleris owes Charlie Black a debt of gratitude.  His persistence and praise of Butler County's workforce was extremely instrumental in IMCO's decision to locate here. Every IMCO executive from the CEO down was on a first name basis with him and held him in high regard.  Many people have had the opportunity to earn a good living close to home with good benefits because Mayor Black cared.  For that matter, any Butler county resident that has enjoyed any of the improvements brought about by the tax dollars paid by IMCO/Aleris employees should also remember the mayor's role; the local businesses that have enjoyed the wages earned at IMCO/Aleris spent at their establishments; the local businesses that benefit from the plant purchases; the local organizations, ball teams, fall festivals, and countless others that have benefited from the company donations given by IMCO/Aleris - all should know the part the Mayor played behind the scenes.  He was so proud of the plant.  It was nothing to look up and see him driving on plant site just to see how things were going or bring another potential employer out to take a look.

Did Charlie do everything right?  Of course not, but who among us does?  There is one thing for certain though.  Charlie and Mary Alice have never had anything but the best for Butler County and Morgantown at heart.  I am thankful they were lead here.    What a difference they have made.  Wouldn't it be great if all of us cared enough to make a difference?  Then, the world would get results not excuses.


Remembering Charlie Black: By Richard & Brenda M. Anthony and Nyla Hammers Morgan

Today we learned the sad news that we have lost Mr. Black. My mind goes back many years to when he first came to Morgantown.   I was privileged to be part of the very first band and remember well the excitement.  Admiration for Mr. Black was immediately apparent and I felt no one worked harder than my mother, Nyla Hammers Morgan,  raising money for uniforms and all that goes with the start up of a brand new band.  The hard work unified the community.  We had a common cause and it seemed everyone worked together to help make the band successful.  I still remember the first day we wore our hard-earned uniforms and the tremendous pride the community had in the band.  It would not have happened without Charles T. Black.
Mr. Black was a hard task-master and often let us band members know we had to work hard to meet his expectations. His drive and determination influenced everyone and truly reflected his oft quoted motto:  "the world wants results, not excuses".  Later, he would have that same work ethic when he served as Mayor of Morgantown.  The influence and affect Mr. Black had on Butler County (especially his band members) is truly remarkable.  Although Mother is unable to write something herself, I know she had a great friendship with the Blacks - more than friendship - a great love.  We express our deepest sympathy for the passing of a great man - one we feel honored to know.  Our love and prayers go out to Mrs. Black, Jan, Carol and the family.


Remembering Charlie Black: By Gary S. Smrtic 

I would like to pass on a few thoughts about Mayor Black.

I met Mayor Black in 2006 while engaged in a site selection process for our company.

I was impressed by him from the moment we met, and my respect grew for him each time we met.

Tough, funny, tough, intelligent, tough, yet compassionate, tough, and mostly, dedicated to the betterment of his community.

We both talked a great deal about history, a favorite subject of mine, although Mayor Black REALLY knew his stuff, and enlightened me to many historical facts I never knew.

I know several people whom he taught in the public school that had a long term acquaintance with him, and who still feared and respected him from their days as his students.

I loved the man. He is, to a large extent, why my wife and I love and remain in this community.

His dedication to the community was that infectious.

Our first business ventures did not turn out as planned, but I am proud to have brought a solid business into the community through Blackhawk Composites.

I hope to bring other business opportunities to Butler County, and I know that would please Mayor Black.

The world expects results, not excuses. Indeed. Charlie Black got results.

Godspeed Charlie…

Remembering Charlie Black: By Andy Sullivan

I owe my career as a journalist to several people, Charles Black being one.  I began at the Butler County Post, but one of my longest(and shortest) tenures was at Beechtree Radio(when it was WLBQ).  Mr. and Mrs. Black owned the station.   I started as a music reviewer.  I loved that job! It wasn't long that I was approached about an on-air position at WLBQ.  They were short-handed on the weekends.  I wasn't sure about this.  I wasn't the best public speaker in the world.  Granted, it was radio.  People would hear me and not see me.  That thought pleased me, so I took the job.  I soon found that being an on-air talent wasn't for me.  However, he gave me my first shot.  I owe my journalistic career to many people, Mr. Black among them.

 

Remembering Charlie Black:  By Sharon Meeks Jackson - Morehead, KY

August 20,  I attended my 45th year high school reunion in Morgantown.  A wonderful event and I am very proud to be from Butler County.  As I was driving to Morgantown from my home in Morehead, KY, my reflections always went to the one teacher who had the most influence on me from the 7th through 12th grade.  That person, assuredly, was Mr. Black.  His expectations of hard work and proper character and “attitude adjustment” (for which I was called in and will never forget) pushed me further than I would have ever gone without him.  He had the same effect on hundreds of other students who were in his band program.  

I went to see him at the nursing home the day after our 1966 reunion.  Sadly, I do not think he remembered me even though I had visited him a few times in the last 45 years.  I wanted to hear his long ago cackling laugh, but did get a couple of sweet smiles.  I gave him a kiss and a couple of tears before I left.  Goodbye Mr. Black.

 

Remembering Charlie Black: By Jeff Jennings

I spent a great deal of time with Mayor Black over the past 20 years or so... As a sports broadcaster with WLBQ and as an employee at the City Pool... What always struck me while working with him was his ability to formulate a vision of the direction he wanted Morgantown to take... and that direction was always firmly centered around the young people in our community... There is a story about a man who struggles to cross a violent river and after he completes his journey across the waters he stops to build a bridge... A passerby ask the old man why he stopped to build the bridge after he had already crossed the rough waters... The old gentleman replied "I didn't build it for me but for the for all the young people coming behind me"... That was the Charlie Black I knew... I'll miss him....

Remembering Charlie Black: Jim Thomason

How do you sum up what Charlie Black meant to me and so many in just a comment box? Here goes:

Surrogate father figure in the 70's when I was a teenager adrift.

Music teacher who showed me for the first time what excellence and organization looked like.

Old School disciplinarian who provided an example that old school work ethic and determination lead to success.

Mayor who recruited Sumitomo to Morgantown where I started my corporate career.

Father of Mark who I counted as a close friend and whose conversion to Catholicism preceded and encouraged my own.

Wife to Mary Alice who was the first person to teach me music; now I teach as well.

Like so many I am the man I turned out to be because of Charlie and his wonderful family. The truest testament to the man is that I am not unique in that regard.

 

Remembering Charlie Black: by Linda Minton

Mr. Black. The name alone can still make me feel like a schoolgirl who is afraid of having the eraser thrown at me! I credit the discipline from band and Mr. Black with many things that I have been able to accomplish in my life. Every time I want to make excuses, I remember him saying;(My grandmother said the road to hell is paved with good intentions)for some reason, that one stuck with me.

There were times when we thought we wouldn't live through marching band season, after that you realize you can pretty much live through anything. When things get tough, I find myself calling on those great reservoirs of strength to see me through. 

The highlight of course is that we all get to experience the most lovely person on earth which is Mary Alice Black. I will always love this family with all my heart for the love they have shown my family and all the community.

Remembering Charlie Black: Bryan Locke

When I was about four years old, my Mom was taking organ lessons from Mrs. Black. I think that was the first one-on-one contact I had with Mr. Black. This was when they lived on Thomas Street in the stone house with the playhouse in the back. My sister Martha and the Black’s daughter Carol (before Mark and Jan came along) and I would play while lessons were going on. Mr. Black would always be reading the paper in his easy-chair, legs crossed, heavily engrossed in the printed goings-on of the day. He laughed heartily and smiled a lot. He had that rare quality of making you feel like you had his undivided attention.

A couple of years later when I was about six years old, I decided I wanted to be a drummer. Every band concert I went to or parade I saw, I was enamored with the drums. My dad took me up to the band room above the bus garage behind the old school after school. If you remember the old band room, you’ll remember there wasn’t a lot of extra space. Mr. Black’s office was small and cramped, music folders stacked to the ceiling, instruments in stages of repair. Mr. Black was behind his desk holding court with several students. He shooed them out of the office and asked us to sit down. My dad told Mr. Black that I wanted to be a drummer. Mr. Black’s eyes widened and he laughed one if his big laughs and said “Oh No!” He grabbed a brand new pair of drumsticks and handed them to me. He placed a thick textbook on the edge of his desk right in front of me and said, “Mama-Daddy.” What? Mama-Daddy! What did that mean? He took another pair of drumsticks for himself and on a spot he cleared out on his desk played two beats with each hand, Ma-Ma on the right, Dad-dy on the left. Mama Daddy, Mama Daddy, Mama Daddy, very slowly. He nodded for me to join him in playing. Mamma daddy mamma daddy. Then he progressively started playing it faster, building in speed and dynamic. All the while he’s staring straight into my eyes, kind of hypnotically: Mamma daddy, mamma daddy. I did my best to keep up with his tempo and soon found that we were slowly and steadily merging into a whirring blur of notes. At the crescendo of the performance, he precisely stopped playing, folded the sticks together and said, “That is the double stroke roll. One down and 25 to go!” He handed me a small wooden practice pad with a red rubber plate and a Belwin beginners drum book. He said, “Learn everything in this book and come see me in five years.” I did!

Mine is just one story. Imagine multiplying this story by the hundreds, if not thousands of children who were encouraged at some point in their young lives by him and by Mrs. Black.

A friend of mine wrote on hearing that Mr. Black had passed away, and I’m paraphrasing, “He would cuss you, embarrass you, encourage you, and sometimes make you mad enough to die, but he always brought out the best.”

Mr. Black taught, among so many other things, if we so desired and had the drive, we could indeed BE the best.

The World Wants Results, Not Excuses.

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Comments

I spent a great deal of time with Mayor Black over the past 20 years or so... As a sports broadcaster with WLBQ and as an employee at the City Pool... What always struck me while working with him was his ability to formulate a vision of the direction he wanted Morgantown to take... and that direction was always firmly centered around the young people in our community... There is a story about a man who struggles to cross a violent river and after he completes his journey across the waters he stops to build a bridge... A passerby ask the old man why he stopped to build the bridge after he had already crossed the rough waters... The old gentleman replied "I didn't build it for me but for the for all the young people coming behind me"... That was the Charlie Black I knew... I'll miss him....
How do you sum up what Charlie Black meant to me and so many in just a comment box? Here goes: Surrogate father figure in the 70's when I was a teenager adrift. Music teacher who showed me for the first time what excellence and organization looked like. Old School disciplinarian who provided an example that old school work ethic and determination lead to success. Mayor who recruited Sumitomo to Morgantown where I started my corporate career. Father of Mark who I counted as a close friend and whose conversion to Catholicism preceded and encouraged my own. Wife to Mary Alice who was the first person to teach me music; now I teach as well. Like so many I am the man I turned out to be because of Charlie and his wonderful family. The truest testament to the man is that I am not unique in that regard.
When I was about four years old, my Mom was taking organ lessons from Mrs. Black. I think that was the first one-on-one contact I had with Mr. Black. This was when they lived on Thomas Street in the stone house with the playhouse in the back. My sister Martha and the Black’s daughter Carol (before Mark and Jan came along) and I would play while lessons were going on. Mr. Black would always be reading the paper in his easy-chair, legs crossed, heavily engrossed in the printed goings-on of the day. He laughed heartily and smiled a lot. He had that rare quality of making you feel like you had his undivided attention. A couple of years later when I was about six years old, I decided I wanted to be a drummer. Every band concert I went to or parade I saw, I was enamored with the drums. My dad took me up to the band room above the bus garage behind the old school after school. If you remember the old band room, you’ll remember there wasn’t a lot of extra space. Mr. Black’s office was small and cramped, music folders stacked to the ceiling, instruments in stages of repair. Mr. Black was behind his desk holding court with several students. He shooed them out of the office and asked us to sit down. My dad told Mr. Black that I wanted to be a drummer. Mr. Black’s eyes widened and he laughed one if his big laughs and said “Oh No!” He grabbed a brand new pair of drumsticks and handed them to me. He placed a thick textbook on the edge of his desk right in front of me and said, “Mama-Daddy.” What? Mama-Daddy! What did that mean? He took another pair of drumsticks for himself and on a spot he cleared out on his desk played two beats with each hand, Ma-Ma on the right, Dad-dy on the left. Mama Daddy, Mama Daddy, Mama Daddy, very slowly. He nodded for me to join him in playing. Mamma daddy mamma daddy. Then he progressively started playing it faster, building in speed and dynamic. All the while he’s staring straight into my eyes, kind of hypnotically: Mamma daddy, mamma daddy. I did my best to keep up with his tempo and soon found that we were slowly and steadily merging into a whirring blur of notes. At the crescendo of the performance, he precisely stopped playing, folded the sticks together and said, “That is the double stroke roll. One down and 25 to go!” He handed me a small wooden practice pad with a red rubber plate and a Belwin beginners drum book. He said, “Learn everything in this book and come see me in five years.” I did! Mine is just one story. Imagine multiplying this story by the hundreds, if not thousands of children who were encouraged at some point in their young lives by him and by Mrs. Black. A friend of mine wrote on hearing that Mr. Black had passed away, and I’m paraphrasing, “He would cuss you, embarrass you, encourage you, and sometimes make you mad enough to die, but he always brought out the best.” Mr. Black taught, among so many other things, if we so desired and had the drive, we could indeed BE the best. The World Wants Results, Not Excuses.
Mr. Black. The name alone can still make me feel like a schoolgirl who is afraid of having the eraser thrown at me! I credit the discipline from band and Mr. Black with many things that I have been able to accomplish in my life. Every time I want to make excuses, I remember him saying;(My grandmother said the road to hell is paved with good intentions)for some reason, that one stuck with me. There were times when we thought we wouldn't live through marching band season, after that you realize you can pretty much live through anything. When things get tough, I find myself calling on those great reservoirs of strength to see me through. The highlight of course is that we all get to experience the most lovely person on earth which is Mary Alice Black. I will always love this family with all my heart for the love they have shown my family and all the community.
Mr. Black made Morgantown what it is today. Just go around Morgantown and you see the things Mr. Black did. Our beautiful park and pool. Our streets look like a Norman Rockwell picture ,especially when it snows. Other counties copied our look. He always had time to talk to you I had him in band and we always got good scores at festivals. Every where you turn is something Mr. Black caused to be. To Mrs. Black be strong you had one of a kind man. He was so special. I remember walking down the street talking with him, those days I will cherish forever." The world wants results not excuses" will go on forever. He was a smart man and got things done. He will sorely be missed. We love you always. Mrs. Black we love you and if you need anything let me and Verlon know. Mike works with Verlon so you let him know. Only one more word. "GREAT"
I wish everyone could have been a "band kid" with us... All of these stories you are reading are only slight examples of what Mr. Black meant to us. I whole heartedly agree with everything that each one has said. I was a band kid from 5th thru 12th grade, graduating in 1975. From 1st to the beginning of that marvelous 5th grade year I was a wanna be band kid who could not wait to be in 5th grade... I think I was in 2nd or 3rd grade the summer that I started taking piano form Mrs. Black. I vividly remember my bicycle ride from our house to their house. I was so excited I could hardly breath because, not only did I get to start playing the piano, but I would get to see Mr. Black too... During all of those years there were times when I would get so mad at him and I would want to quit but I never did and the next day I would be over the mad and we would go on... Yes, there was a full length mirror in the band room (both the old and the new) and he expected us to use it to make sure we were presentable. Yes, we marched in the heat of the day, with sweat bees crawling all over us (we could not move to shoo them away). Yes, we played Halloween pranks at their house (sorry Mrs. Black) and yes, we cleaned up our Halloween pranks at their house. How he knew each and every one of us who had done it; I will never know. We ALL washed a lot of band room windows along the way, wrote pages of "The world wants results, not excuses"; recited The Lord's Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance (by the way, we recited it the way it was written "one nation under God" without comma's and I still do that today). He wanted us to experience everything, try everything, be the best we could be. Yes, he was a Father figure and a mentor, but most of all he was our friend forever. I am kicking myself for not going to see him at the nursing home and telling him I loved him. I believe he knows that I do. These are just one band kid's memories and does not even touch on everything that he did for Morgantown. I will just say that Morgantown would not be where it is today if it were not for Mr. Black's vision and his never giving up. Thank you, Beech Tree, for letting us share our memories and thank you Jan and Mrs. Black for sharing him with us for all those years. Mr. Black, you are always in our hearts.
In the fall of 1981, the Butler County High School Band was privileged to be invited to Louisville, Kentucky, to play at a political rally for then presidential candidate, Ronald Reagan. Regardless of your political affiliation, this was a great honor for the kids of Butler County. As soon as he found out that we would be attending, he immediately anticipated various kinds of music that would be appropriate for this event. There were other big-name schools invited as well, so Mr. Black did NOT take this lightly. He always encouraged us to work hard and stand out as a first-class group, and this day was no exception. He had a way of making each of us want to do our very best, so we were ready for the challenge! When we arrived, the bands were placed in a circle around the speaker’s stage. Before the event, the rally organizers met with all the band directors. Each director was asked if their band could play each type of music they were looking for. The requests included modern music, traditional music, and patriotic music. Each band director was asked, “Can you play this type of music?” As they went around the group of directors, Mr. Black was able to confidently say yes to each request. And then it came to the final request….. “Who can play John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever?” No one said anything. Mr. Black allowed each director to have their say before speaking up. The organizer said, “Can no one play The Stars & Stripes?” Mr. Black calmly and proudly said, “We can”. Immediately, one of the other directors said, “Piccolo solo and all?” Mr. Black’s response: “Piccolo solo and all”. All this happened without any band member knowing it at the time. Mr. Black had all the faith in the world in his students and knew that with his usual encouragement, we would perform. When he walked back to the band, he looked like he was walking on air! Not because of his own accomplishment, but because he was proud of his students. Needless to say, the Butler County Band once again rose to the occasion and shone above all the others. We played that march like our lives depended on it! After the event, we left with our heads held high. The Monday after the event when we were back in band class, it was another one of those times when we didn’t play a note for the entire class period. He sat at the podium and once again talked to us about the importance of being the best at what you do and anything you do is worth doing right, how important it is to be a good citizen for your community and for your country, and that…………… “The World Wants Results, Not Excuses!”


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