After 60 years of service to one of the finest collegiate instrumental music programs in the nation, Roy Johnson is retiring at the end of this academic year as the “Voice” of the “All-American” Marching Band. Roy will be remembered throughout history and his legacy will live on through the countless lives he has touched while at Purdue University. To honor Roy and Sarah, the faculty and staff made several surprise announcements that were unveiled throughout the Homecoming weekend.
With the help of the Gamma Pi Alumni Association, a scholarship endowment was created prior to Homecoming. In an effort to keep the scholarship announcement a secret from both Roy and Sarah, the department approached Radio City alumni, along with brothers from Kappa Kappa Psi, and asked them to consider a gift prior to Homecoming weekend. With a goal of $50,000, many band alumni and friends stepped up and helped exceed our expectations. With a lead gift from band alumnus, Marc Hagle and his wife Sharon, plus additional gifts from loyal alumni, more than $138,000 was raised in support of the scholarship. “Announcing a $138,000 endowment to provide scholarships in honor of Roy and Sarah was remarkable. The look on their faces was priceless. We hope more alumni and friends will now come forward to support this scholarship endowment in honor of a truly amazing couple. They have given so much to our department throughout their lives, so I hope this scholarship named after both Roy and Sarah will honor them in a big way,” said Jay Gephart.
The surprises did not stop there. Members of the “All-American” Marching Band announced the addition of the word “Roy” to the band cheer. The addition of this new word will allow all future bandsmen the opportunity to understand the legacy Roy Johnson left on the department during his 60 years of service. At halftime, Roy and Sarah were escorted onto the field for special recognition by the alumni band, “All-American” Marching Band and Purdue University. Roy played a part in designing the halftime performance by selecting two special numbers which included the Circus Show Medley featuring music from the band’s first appearance in the Rose Bowl, and the infamous 1812 Overture, complete with fireworks. The show concluded with special messages from Purdue University President Mitch Daniels and Director of Bands Emeritus, Dr. Al G. Wright. A version of “I Am An American” with words spoken by Sarah, as well as different Purdue celebrities, was also played on the jumbotron. Guest conductors included Bill Kissinger, Dr. David Leppla and Roy Johnson. The show ended with a rousing rendition of Hail Purdue as over 900 people formed the infamous “Block P” on the field.
“Roy and Sarah Johnson have truly been a tremendous asset in every way to our department and we will be forever grateful for all that they have done for our students,” said Gephart.
Should you wish to contribute to the Roy and Sarah Johnson Scholarship Endowment, please click here.