Nov. 22, 1959 - Feb. 17, 2015
Heaven's marching band has a new director. Beloved Austin band director Gary Faust died Feb. 17, 2015.
In 1977-78, Gary served as a drum major at Austin's Crockett High School, then home to one of the best band programs in Texas, under legendary band director Paula Crider. That inspired him to pursue a career teaching music. Gary earned his Bachelor of Music degree in 1983 from the University of Texas and was a member of Longhorn Band. He remained a passionate "Lifetime Longhorn."
Gary began his career as the assistant band director at Austin's Anderson High School. Next, he served as graduate assistant director of bands at Northwestern State University in Louisiana, where he received his master's in music. Gary then came home to Austin, serving as head director at Dobie Middle School. Over time, he would serve as head director at three area high schools: Reagan, Travis and Akins and assistant director at Georgetown H.S. Gary also transformed Mesquite High School in North Texas into one of the most successful 5A band programs in the state. Gary was particularly proud of the number of students who majored in music at great music schools throughout the nation. Many of those students earned full scholarships.
After Mesquite, Gary returned to UT and pursued his Ph.D. in education administration. While working as a full-time student, he served as the head band director at Travis. Gary maintained a 4.0 grade point average at the same time he led Travis to its first-ever Area Marching Contest and first UIL Sweepstakes in more than 20 years.
Gary's next move was to Akins High School, where he led the Eagle Band to the State Marching Band Championship finals in 2006 and earned 10 consecutive UIL Sweepstakes awards. He also inspired hundreds of students to pursue a college education, and that work was featured in the 2013 PBS documentary "Marching to Nowhere."
With his accomplishments, Gary could have worked anywhere, but he was drawn to communities with fewer resources where kids faced steeper challenges.
"I guess I just ended up at places where people think the kids can't succeed," Gary told PBS. "And that's just never been a part of me. I told them we're going do this. We're going do it right. We're going to do our best, and we're going try and be the best."
A legion of loyal former students - people who got to know him over 30 years of teaching - love "Mr. Faust" dearly and miss him.
Gary, or "Guzzy," is survived by his mother Geraldine Faust; sister Terri Johnson; brother-in-law Tracy Johnson; nephews Hunter Johnson, Tome Johnson and Scooter Faust; niece Brandi Faust; his dear cousins Ray, Danny and Royle Faust and many others; and his babies Brice, Grayson and Tessa.
His father Sam Faust and brother Sammy greeted Gary in heaven.
A celebration of Gary's life is scheduled for Sunday, March 29, at 4 p.m. at the AISD Performing Arts Center in Mueller, 1500 Barbara Jordan Blvd.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Longhorn Alumni Band Scholarship Fund at PO Box 302611, Austin, TX., 78703
Published in Austin American-Statesman from Feb. 22 to Feb. 23, 2015.