CHARLESTON — A deceased principal and marching band director at Parkersburg South High School will be honored with induction into the West Virginia Marching Band Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Tom Eschbacher will be inducted in a ceremony at the 11th Annual West Virginia Marching Band Invitational Championship after the Parkersburg South Marching Band’s performance. The band performs at 8 p.m. and the induction ceremony is at 8:15 p.m. at the University of Charleston’s home stadium, Laidley Field.
“I’m excited,” Amy Eschbacher, his widow, said.
Amy will be in Charleston to represent her husband at the induction. They have a son, Bobby, who lives too far away to attend the ceremony, she said.
Eschbacher died in July 2014. He was 51 years old.
He began his career as a group director at Washington Junior High School, then became a group director at Parkersburg South from 1991 until 1996, when he became an administrator.
Eschbacher was vice principal at Parkersburg South, then principal at Blennerhassett Junior High School before returning to Parkersburg South as principal for 13 years at the time of his death. He was named West Virginia Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals in 2009.
A 1980 graduate of Parkersburg High School, he was the drum major of the Big Red Marching Band for two years and was active in chamber choirs and A Cappella. He graduated from West Virginia University where he was a member of the marching band, the Pride of West Virginia.
“Tom Eschbacher was an outstanding music educator and administrator. In all aspects of his career, he had high expectations for his students and for himself,” said Wood County Schools Superintendent Christie Willis.
“Most importantly, he cared. He cared about people and he cared about student learning,” she says. “Whether teaching in the classroom or in his administrative role, Tom was focused on the children.”
Eschbacher was second alto saxophone player with the Smoot House Band and performed with Clarksburg’s Orlando Colombo Band and the Doug Hess Band. He was proud of the kids he led in the bands and would be proud to be in the Hall of Fame that includes Wayne Smith, the retired Tyler Consolidated music teacher whom Eschbacher considered a mentor, Amy said.
“It’s an honor,” Amy said.
The Parkersburg South Marching Band is also doing well this year in competitions, which would also have made her husband proud, she said.
Among this year’s wins for Parkersburg South were Grand Champion and Class A Champion at the Jim Kessell Marching Band Festival on Oct. 8 at PHS and 3rd Runner-up at the Philip Barbour Horseshoe Classic on Oct. 22.