One Book, One Bakersfield, One Kern

Join us for our Fall 2013 read of "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks."

Bakersfield honors its own Wes Moore

Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall reads a proclamation in honor of Wes Moore, aka "The Colonel," Bakersfield High School's longtime band director. Hal Silverman, left, served as emcee for the ceremony on Nov. 4. Karen Goh and Mary Moore are on the right.

Mary Moore and two of her family members post with Mayor Harvey Hall, Hal Silverman and supervisor Karen Goh after the half-time tribute to Moore's late husband Wes Moore on Nov. 4 at Bakersfield High School.

After a lightening storm caused the cancellation of a Bakersfield High School home football game in September, a planned tribute for the school’s former long-time band director Wes Moore was rescheduled for Nov. 4. This time, the only thing flashing were smiles by all involved in the half-time ceremony: Moore’s widow, Mary, and her family; retired BHS announcer Hal Silverman as emcee; Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall; and Kern County Supervisor Karen Goh.

“Being on Griffith Field brought back so many good memories, and the Drillers won 46-7. The ‘Colonel’ would have loved it,” Mary Moore wrote in an email after the event. “I feel very appreciative and in awe of the respect still given to my husband.”

Her late husband, known to most as “Colonel Moore” or simply the “Colonel,” was director of the BHS bands for 33 years, from 1946 to 1979. During that time, he positively influenced countless students through the power of music and the discipline that comes with being an award winning marching band. The Colonel passed away in 2004 but his memory lives on.

As Bakersfield and Kern County read the best-selling book “The Other Wes Moore” by New York-based author Wes Moore this fall, the community couldn’t help but recall the memories of our own own Wes Moore. The many themes of the book included the importance of education, mentoring, and positive role models for youth. The Colonel embodied all three of these themes in his career at Bakersfield High School.

During the half-time ceremony, Mayor Hall and Supervisor Goh both presented certificates to Mary Moore and her family for the contributions the patriarch made to Bakersfield High School’s students and the greater community. The BHS band played the Driller Alma Mater, which Moore himself composed. And Hal Silverman, who used to announce the Driller band formations during football half-time performances under Moore’s direction (and who in his own right is a BHS legend after announcing games for 40 years), acted as emcee for the ceremony.

It was a moving tribute and a wonderful example of how a common read can pull a community together in celebration, reflection, and discourse. The One Book, One Bakersfield, One Kern committee seeks opportunities like this to expand our annual reads to reach all corners of the community.

You can read memories of The Colonel submitted by community members here on the One Book, One Bakersfield, One Kern website: onebookonebakersfieldonekern.com/category/stories

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About Jennifer Burger

I teach journalism and multimedia storytelling at California State University, Bakersfield, where I also advise the student newspaper The Runner.

2 comments on “Bakersfield honors its own Wes Moore

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