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Esteemed Laredo band director celebrated after passing at 93

Elmo Lopez Sr. passed away Monday morning at the age of 93, but his legacy of changing the musical landscape in the Gateway City will continue to live on.
Published: Mar. 17, 2021 at 10:30 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - A former Laredo band director is remembered for more than 30 years of service to students and their families.

Elmo Lopez Sr. passed away Monday morning at the age of 93, but his legacy of changing the musical landscape in the Gateway City will continue to live on.

Some call him the music man of Laredo, Lopez paved the way for band directors and music students, dedicating his life to the profession.

The Martin High School Band Hall was dedicated to Lopez in 2019, which is where he served as band director for 10 years.

“The Martin High School Band will always live forever because of people like Mr. Elmo Lopez,” said Bobby Castro, the current Martin High School band director.

He was also a man of many firsts: first band director at Lamar Junior High School, first band director at Nixon High School and first director of bands at Texas A&M International University…

Lopez also opened Laredo’s first music store dedicated to band instruments.

“Every morning when I pass by the band hall, and I see his trophy case, it just reminds me of all the work that he put in, and it encourages us all to be better band directors,” said Castro, who has known the Lopez family since he was a senior in high school, getting his first job at Lopez’s music store.

Decades later, the two would cross paths every summer at his ranch when band students would perform for the family.

“The kids always wanted to go to his house. ‘Sir, are we going to go to Mr. Lopez’s house to go play for him?’ And he would come out with his wife. The neighborhood would come out, and the Martin High School Band would give him his own free concert at his house,” Castro said. “The kids enjoyed that, and now we’re going to miss it. Hopefully we’ll continue with his wife and the family to continue to go to his house and perform for them.”

Under Lopez’s leadership, the Martin High School band placed in the top five bands in Texas during the Texas Music Educators Honor Band competitions.

One of his former students cherishes his time playing under Lopez.

When asked how Lopez influenced his life, former student Goyo Lopez said, “To be a hard worker and if you’re going to do it, do it right. If you needed something, you would go to him and he would respond.”

In 1963, composer James Clifton Williams composed “Laredo Paso Doble” and dedicated it to Lopez and the Martin High School Band.

“He was a great asset and a great value to a lot of us and inspired a lot of us,” Castro said. “Now that he’s gone, it’s our job to continue to not only educate our kids about music, but the need is there to just become better teachers and be more creative in our art and love the music, and that was Dr. Elmo Lopez Sr.”

Lopez also received an honorary doctorate from TAMIU, and he was inducted into the Texas Bandmasters Hall of Fame in 1998 and the South Texas Band Directors Hall of Fame in 2007.

Lopez had many more achievements in his career. You can read more about him here.

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