JSU dedicates director’s tower to group legend

When friends and family think of DeLeath Rives, they think of the kindness and generosity he has shown people his entire life.

“I have never met a more humble man in my entire life,” said Shannon Waites, a friend of the family. “He brought people in, no matter where we were. The former students came to see him and loved him, everyone knew him.

Rives is also remembered for his love of music and his appreciation for band programs throughout the state, particularly the Jacksonville State University Marching Southerners, of which he was a founding member.

“DeLeath Rives was also a soul mate,” said Gene Inglis, a personal friend of Rives and group principal at Saks High School. He met me at the door, he came to see me after we had played, always encouraging and he did it for every group director.

“He’s always been very proud of JSU, it’s a very special part of his life,” said family member Tena Wright. “It means a lot to the family. He loved music, and music was just his life, that’s what he loved.

DeLeath Rives was a founding member of the Marching Southerners at Jacksonville State University and a longtime high school group principal.

Now, two years after his passing in 2019, Jacksonville State University has decided to honor his legacy by dedicating the group director’s tower to him at Bennett Field, the group’s training ground.

“I remember the day I got the email from Dr (Staci) Stone, our dean, (telling me) that the Headmaster’s Tower would be named DeLeath Rives and I have to tell you that I was delighted, “said Dr Ken Bodiford. , Group Director at JSU, “For years I have heard stories about the fantastic group leader he was and testimonials about the positive impact he had on many of his hundreds of students.

He continued, “Since being a director here at JSU he has always been incredibly supportive of me, my assistant group directors and the entire band program, both the Marching Southerners and the concert band programs. ”

Originally from Albertville, Rives after leaving JSU led groups in several high schools, including Lafayette, Cordova, Gadsden and Gaston.

It was at the last school that we saw his generosity shine through. “He donated $ 10,000 to help the group pay for new uniforms,” said Inglis.

Rives also made several donations to the JSU group’s program, donating the money to pay for new instruments when they were needed, such as bass clarinets, concert bass clarinets, and double reed instruments.

“Our continued excellence is due, in part, to the support of friends, family and alumni like DeLeath Rives and Gloria Rives (widow of Rives),” said Stone, dean of the College of the Arts and Humanities by JSU.

“Over the years he would go to as many concerts as he could, and after the show he would always come and ask me, ‘Ken, what do you need? »Remembers Bodiford.

Upon his death, Rives made a final donation, from his estate, to the JSU Group program – a donation that Bodiford said “made him cry”.

“After the tornado hit JSU, followed by the pandemic, we couldn’t do any of our normal Southerner fundraisers like Honor Band or the JSU Contest of Champions,” he said. “His gift was literally a godsend for us at that time. This has allowed us to keep the Marching Southerners and continue to operate as we have normally done over the past few years. ”

The Director’s Tower, now known as the DeLeath Rives Memorial Tower, is one of the tallest group director’s towers in the southeast, Bodiford said, “maybe even in the country.”

“Standard tape steering towers are about 30 feet or less high,” he said. “This tower is currently 36 feet above the ground surface. This will allow us to see all of the southerners and properly clean up the exercise, which we have not been able to do before. (It’s) a huge tower for a man with a huge heart.

Even with this honor, friends and family say Rives “wouldn’t indulge in it.”

“He would just be happy to see all these people. I’m sure he wished he could have been here, ”Waites said. “I’m sure he’s proud of anything he can do to help the Southerners, but he wouldn’t bask in the glory, that’s for sure.”

With this tower, friends, family and JSU himself will keep Rives’ legacy alive for many generations to come.

“We all miss those who came before us, but just as this tower stands with us, the legacy of DeLeath Rives will remain standing, not only physically, but forever in our hearts here at JSU,” said Inglis.

About Selena J. Killeen

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