Comments and Opinions from University of Miami Alumni and Friends

Cymbals of Leadership

n light of your recent article on the Band of the Hour (“March of Time,” spring 2004), I’d like to tell a bit about my first trip to Coral Gables to show how this early group got together.

It was 5 a.m. on December 28, 1934. Nine of us in an old Chevy and a vintage Case roadster met in Detroit, Michigan, with luggage and instruments. The trip was fraught with problems. In Burnside, Kentucky, Bob Reinert’s little Case gave up, so we left it by the side of the road and took him and two others to a railroad station. After reaching northern Florida, the rest of us had a blowout, but I packed the tire casing full of palm fronds, and we limped our way to Miami. We arrived and met Mr. Scheaffer, who was waiting at his house with a great pot of chili. We had just enough time to get cleaned up and go to the Miami High football field for what we will always remember as the first Orange Bowl game—UM versus Navy, and we lost!

This original band that Mr. Scheaffer built grew into a group of 14 from the area of Detroit. I recall that we eventually became one of President Bowman Foster Ashe’s favorite subjects when speaking on the subject of school spirit. I have such great memories of Mr. Scheaffer and the University of Miami concert band. I would like to express my gratitude for the foundation and preparation for my career in the oboe section of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Harold J. Hall, B.P.S.M. ’38
Royal Oak, Michigan

ny story about the history of marching bands at the University of Miami is virtually incomplete without mention of the groundbreaking work of the man who created the Band of the Hour, Fred McCall. From 1948 until 1971 Fred was a dominant force in marching bands at the University and nationwide. For the literally thousands of us who over the years played under him, McCall was mentor, conductor, and friend. But aboveall, he was a true artist.

Miami in the post-WWII years was a hotbed of marching band activity. Virtually all of the 120-plus band members were on full scholarship. When I arrived on campus in fall of 1949, a large number were ex-GIs. They gave the band a maturity and discipline that set it apart.

Before Fred came on the scene, halftime shows consisted of musical maneuvers and formations. Fred added lights, both on the field and on each musician. A flashlight clipped to the belt of each bandsman, controlled by an on-off switch, was connected to strings of small lights on the arms and legs. There were literally thousands of lights, most of them in motion. When the lights in the Orange Bowl dimmed, the effect was truly magical.

The contributions of Fred McCall were many. He served as advisor to countless students who are successful bandmasters today. He ele-vated the art of halftime shows to new heights. His pioneering work forms the basis for all the Band of the Hour is today. Not too many years ago, Fred was elected to The Florida Bandmaster’s Hall of Fame. There were numerous tribute speeches, one of which concluded with a description of Fred atop his tower, shouting, “Willmott, Willmott!” I know not what my transgression was, for there were many. But I was honored to be included, for like the thousands of students who knew him, learned from him, and respected him, I’m proud to remember Fred.

John Willmott, A.B. ’54
Fletcher, North Carolina

Courage Amid illness

I believe that any mention of the University of Miami’s progress in dealing with cystic fibrosis (“Clearing the Air,” spring 2004) should be accompanied by acknowledgement of the life and accomplishments of a brave young man, Jim Haft, B.S.’84, M.D. ’88. I imagine many of my colleagues will write about and recall his heroism in dealing with this disease while completing medical school and beginning his pediatric residency at the University of Miami. He would receive IV medication and still take call, diligently caring for a full load of patients. He also dedicated himself to cystic fibrosis research. Sadly, Jim died while awaiting a lung transplant, but he will always be remembered for his amazing devotion to his patients, his wonderful fund of knowledge, and his tremendous work ethic.

C. Michael Cotton, M.D. ’86
Via the Interne


Tell Me More

The spring 2004 article, “Foundations Help Patients Find Freedom from Insulin” (University Journal), quickly caught my attention. I have a five-year-old grandson with type I diabetes, and the article gave promise to some exciting work being done at the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) regarding islet cell transplantation. How can I learn more about this important research?

Fred W. Sass, B.B.A. ’59
Panama City, Florida

Editor’s Note: For more information, visit the Web site:, or contact Gary Kleiman, executive director of medical development at the DRI, at 305-243-3899.

First Words

All Eyes on Florida

he fall season this year placed Florida in the national spotlight. Hosting the first presidential debate of 2004 drew the eyes of 63 million U.S. television viewers to the Coral Gables campus, while unusual weather patterns drew the eyes of four major hurricanes to points of impact throughout the state. One week before the September 30 debate, Hurricane Jeanne threatened to derail months of preparation and anticipation for this historic event.

Living or going to school in Florida carries an annual risk of hurricane strike, but here at the University we gained comfort in seeing the swift efficacy of our disaster plan in action. Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne triggered activation of the 24-hour Rumor Control Hotline, whereby volunteers at the University’s state-of-the-art Emergency Operations Center answered questions from nervous parents, students, and employees. The University’s Crisis Decision Team cancelled classes, and residential colleges went into lockdown. All precautions were part of the University’s Disaster Preparation and Recovery Plan, which outlines procedures for all types of year-round emergencies.

Producing Miami magazine and other University publications while preparing for the presidential debate was challenging, even more so amidst flood zone evacuations and long lines for gasoline, water, and carb-laden snacks that help the indoor-bound weather a storm. While devastating to our neighbors north and west of us and in the Caribbean, here at the University we were lucky. For the students and weather experts at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the prolific hurricane season brought the opportunity of a lifetime in terms of the weather patterns and systems they were able to study.

From disasters to disease, finding new knowledge in life’s yet-unavoidable ills is what being a great research university is all about. No doubt it is what will keep all eyes on the University of Miami for many years to come.

— Meredith Danton, Editor

We welcome your letters. All letters must be signed (your name will not be printed if you so request in writing) and may be edited for clarity and space. Address letters to:

Meredith Danton
Miami magazine
P.O. Box 248105
Coral Gables, Florida 33124


Tool Bar