Bill Ewing Scholarships Established at Southeast, Cape Public Schools

wind symphonyCAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., April 4, 2014 – Two scholarships honoring the legacy of Bill Ewing have been established through the Southeast Missouri University Foundation and the Cape Central Public Schools Foundation.

A $10,500 gift was made to the Southeast Missouri University Foundation, and a $20,500 gift was made to the Cape Central Public Schools Foundation to establish the two Bill Ewing Memorial Endowed Scholarships. The Bill Ewing Memorial Scholarship Committee made the gifts. The committee made the donations from funds from a privately funded scholarship begun through numerous private donations from friends and family and former students over nearly the past 25 years.  The gift to the Southeast Missouri University Foundation will be matched with an additional $10,000 through a University matching gift program.

The matching gift program is part of the Honoring Tradition – Inspiring Success Comprehensive Campaign through the Southeast Missouri University Foundation. This program allowed donors to make a minimum commitment of $5,000 to a maximum commitment of $10,000 through donation or pledge by March 1, 2014, that qualified for a $1-for-$1 match. The goal of the Campaign is to raise $40 million for student scholarships, academic programs and renovations that benefit students both today and tomorrow.

The Bill Ewing Memorial Endowed Scholarship at Southeast will be awarded to a student enrolled at Southeast who is majoring in music education or performance and who graduated from the Cape Central High School Band. Students must have a minimum 2.0 grade point average

The Bill Ewing Memorial Endowed Scholarships at Cape Central will be awarded to students graduating from Cape Girardeau Central High School Band with a minimum 2.0 GPA and planning to major in music education or performance.

There will be a minimum award of $1,000 per academic year associated with each scholarship. The recipients will be selected by the director of the Cape Girardeau Central Senior High School Band.

Bill Ewing was born July 11, 1926, in West Frankfort, Ill.  He started school in Chicago and shortly thereafter moved back to West Frankfort.  After another short period, Bill moved to Mounds, Ill., where he completed his elementary and high school years.

Ewing’s musical training began with his family, who had a country music band. At age seven, he started on mandolin, banjo, guitar and fiddle, and soon joined the family band. Since this was during the Great Depression, the band had a difficult time making ends meet, sometimes playing for nothing or only a meal.

Ewing’s formal training began at age 12 in Mounds, Ill., under the guidance of Ethel Miller. He started on all the woodwinds. Because of the early experience with country music, Ewing developed his listening ability and musical ear. After taking up woodwinds, he transferred this listening ability to the Jazz idiom. He “learned the trade” by listening to old recordings and copying solos. One of Bill’s classic statements is “I never read well enough to hurt my playing.”

After high school, Ewing entered service and served first in the infantry. After trying several times, he was finally transferred to the 90th Guard Force Band stationed at Camp Robinson in Little Rock, Ark. Later, he was transferred to the 256th Guard Force Band stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C.  He was discharged as 1st Sergeant of the 256th Band in 1946.

A highlight of Ewing’s service career in music was playing with Billy Butterfield of Artie Shaw-Paul Whiteman fame.

After service, Bill returned to Cape Girardeau and attended Southeast, from which he received his Bachelor of Science in education in 1950, and started his teaching career. Ewing taught one year in Hayti, Mo., and one year in Ste. Genevieve, Mo., before accepting a position in 1952 at Cape Girardeau’s high school. Bill taught elementary band from 1952-54, Jr. High Band from 1954-64, and was the Central High Band director form 1964-78. He also was director at L.J. Schultz Middle School where he helped institute a new and effective beginning program.

During Ewing’s career he enjoyed many “1 Ratings” with High School Concert Band and developed a jazz program, which was highlighted by the 1971 Jazz Band European Tour. He was instrumental in the building of the new music department and participated over the years in curriculum development.

Ewing served as an adjudicator many years for contests in Missouri and surrounding states. He served on the National Advisory Board for the Leblanc Instrument Company. Locally, he spent many years on the Cerebral Palsy Board and was their musical director for the telethon. Bill was a member of the Cape Girardeau Municipal Band, directed the choir at Centenary Methodist Church, and participated as a musician at the Cape Riverfest. He also helped establish the Phil Cloud-Rick Samuels Memorial Scholarship Award.

For additional information on the matching gift program, please contact the Southeast Missouri University Foundation at (573) 651-2203 or foundation@semo.edu.