Chamber Awards Citizen of the Year honor to Robert L English

Bob English

English will be honored at an award ceremony held at Cross Creek Resort on February 23rd.

The Venango Area Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce the Citizen of the Year for 2010, Robert L. English, Sr. Known in recent years for his tireless dedication to the local group Mostly Brass, Bob began his involvement in local music heritage nearly 70 years ago.

A 1943 Graduate of Franklin High School, Bob continued on to receive a Bachelor of Science Degree in Music Education from Graduate of Mansfield University, Mansfield, PA.  Additional music studies include Guild Hall School of Music, London, England; Penn State University; Fredonia College; Peabody Conservatory of Music; and Ithaca College.

In the 40’s he played in the Civic Orchestra of Oil City, directed by Major Olmes. Bob also played and marched with the Oil City American Legion Band when it gained notoriety by bringing home National Championships from various conventions held in cities such as New York and Miami. Throughout the 1940’s Bob played in numerous other music organizations, including the Special Service Dance Band in the European Theater, while serving in Armed Services during World War II. Returning to Franklin, Bob had his own dance band called The Stardusters, which he led; and he played with other bands such as The Hal Brown Band, led by Chet Sanders; the Rocky Grove Firemen’s Band; and the Franklin Silver Cornet Band, of which he was President of the organization for a period of time.

After earning his B.S. in Music Education Bob taught music in Marienville and Youngsville, PA. He returned to Oil City in 1971 to accept the position of Music Supervisor for the Oil City Area School District, a position that he held until his retirement in 1989. In 1977, the Oil City High School Band, under Bob’s direction, was selected as the Official Inaugural Band representing Pennsylvania in the upcoming Inaugural of Jimmy Carter and his Vice President, Walter Mondale.

Bob’s true labor of love has been Mostly Brass, founded in the fall of 1986 when he and Earl Shaffer brought a group of 6 musicians together to provide German music for Oil City’s first Oktoberfest on October 18th. Although there have been as many as 30 musicians on the roster over the years, the band averages about 26 active members. At one time, there were 5 active members aged 80 and over.

The groups’ aggressive schedule involves about 40 performances and 30 or more practice sessions per season. Performances generally include concerts at area convalescent homes and Polk Center. Summer concerts have been played in Oil City, Franklin, Titusville, Clarion, New Bethlehem, Knox, Clintonville, and Harrisville. The band provides music for the annual Memorial Day Services held at the Grove Hill Cemetery. Other performances include appearances at the Fourth of July Parade in Franklin, the Jolly July 3rd celebration in Justus Park, the Oil Heritage Parade in Oil City, the Oil Heritage Ice Cream Social, the Oil Region Festival Parade in Titusville, the community parade in Cochranton, the American Flag Retirement Ceremony in Hasson Park, the Venango County 4H Fair, the Autumn Leaf Festival Parade in Clarion, Franklin’s Applefest, and performances at numerous other community events, church services and special occasions. Mostly Brass does indeed play a unique role as musical ambassador for Oil City and the surrounding area.

Bob English has been the leader for Mostly Brass, managing and directing the organization with a very demanding schedule. Band members comment that “Bob cheerfully rises to the occasion and meets any challenges.”  Mostly Brass has provided an opportunity for those who in the twilight of their years to dust off an instrument they have not played for decades, and find a renewed sense of self worth and service to their community by joining and performing in the band. The young, talented student who wants the challenge of rising to a higher level of achievement can find a mentor to teach them to further hone their skills to not only meet, but to exceed their own expectations. At the same time, a valuable lesson is learned in the giving of oneself to others by providing the gift of music to the community.

Bob has an extensive list of involvement in community organizations, including Knights of Columbus – 4th Degree Life Member, American Federation of Musicians, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Pennsylvania Music Educators Association, Retired Seniors Volunteer Program, AARP, Pennsylvania Association of School Retirees, Oil City Lions Club, Servants of St. Stephens Church – Volunteer Driver.

Those who nominated Bob for the honor of Citizen of the Year repeatedly expressed that Bob demonstrates a life of dedication, commitment and service through his love of music and community.  Bob remarks “I have been supported by friends and family all my life, particularly by my wife Marion, also a musician.  I have found great enjoyment in my volunteer work of the past, and I am not done yet!”

Bob and his wife Marion have three children, seven grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren. Bob and Marion will be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary in June of 2011. Bob’s motto is “STILL GOING STRONG”.

The Venango Area Chamber of Commerce invites you to join us in honoring Bob at the Chamber’s 2011 Annual Dinner on Wednesday, February 23rd at Cross Creek Resort.  For more information call 814-676-8521.

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