Madison Scouts Announce Bill Howard’s Passing
Today, the Madison Scouts mourn the passing of Bill Howard, a founding father of Drum Corps International and father figure to hundreds of Madison Scouts. Bill’s extensive involvement with the corps dates back to the 1950s when he was a marching member and soprano soloist. Through nearly 70 years of involvement, virtually every living Madison Scout has felt Bill’s influence.
In 1969, Bill began a 12-year stint as director of the corps, over which time the organization realized tremendous success both organizationally and competitively. Under his leadership, the 1970 and 1971 corps returned to the VFW Finals after a three-year absence. At the same time, Bill – along with Don Warren (Cavaliers), Jim Jones (Troopers), Dave Kampschroer (Blue Stars) and Gail Royer (Santa Clara Vanguard) – formed the Midwest Combine in 1971 to provide drum corps more control over their financial and creative destinies. This group was the impetus for the formation of Drum Corps International in 1972 and galvanized Howard’s place in drum corps history. As the director of the corps in the 1970s, Bill’s impact on the members was lasting. He was fiery competitive and demanded excellence from everyone associated with the corps. He fostered an environment that demanded loyalty, effort and results in every aspect of the organization, tenets that all Madison Scouts recognize as foundations of the corps.
Throughout his tenure, the Scouts were tremendously popular and fixtures at DCI Finals, during a time when upwards of 60 corps competed in DCI Prelims. As well, Bill led the Scouts to CYO National Championships in 1974 and 1975. The highlight of his directorship, however, was the corps’ first-ever DCI World Championship in 1975. In 1980, after winning what is considered by many to be the last meaningful VFW Championship, he stepped down as director, turning the reigns over to his trusted protégé, Scott Stewart.
However, while Bill’s day-to-day involvement may have stopped, his love for the corps and passionate involvement did not end. Over the next 30 years, Bill served on the board of directors multiple times and also served a vital role to the corps when it was managing significant financial issues, providing not only financial guidance but also free rent and storage to the organization at his Madison business.
Bill’s achievements were not confined to DCI, and in 1980 he was instrumental in the formation of Drum Corps Midwest, the most successful regional drum corps association in the history of the activity. Bill’s lifetime of contributions was recognized in 1994 when he was inducted into the Drum Corps International Hall of Fame.
There has never been a person who loved the corps more than Bill. There has never been someone who has dedicated, literally, an entire lifetime to this organization that extended more than six decades. He truly was one of a kind, and a once-in-a-lifetime Madison Scout. His vision and impact upon the activity and the organization will likely never be equaled, nor will his loyalty to the Madison Scouts.
Those who marched under his direction loved him because he loved them, and because he helped make them better men. And his vision for the future of the activity not only impacted thousands of Madison Scouts, but also paved the way for hundreds of thousands of participants to have life-changing experiences through DCI. Bill’s legacy of selfless service will extend far into the future of the Madison Scouts. He was truly a legend to whom we are all indebted.
May you rest in peace, Bill. And May You Never Walk Alone.