Super Senior: Dick Ellis - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Super Senior: Dick Ellis

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In the picturesque town of South Royalton there is a storm brewing, and Dick Ellis has a decision to make: whether or not to have tonight's band concert on the green in the bandstand named in his honor.

"I think it going to be inside," he said.

Reluctantly, he decides to move it to the middle school gym. It's soon clear it was a wise decision-- it starts to pour. The band moves quickly to set up. Dick, 88, is the conductor of the band.

"It's been in my blood since I was born, I guess," he said. "I was born, by the way, on this side of the bridge."

The native son moved away in the 1940s, got married to Polly, and played professionally in a big band. Soon they had a boy. But every night on the road wasn't what the young couple wanted; South Royalton was home.

"My guidance teacher said you couldn't do that. You can't make a living in Vermont with music," Dick recalled.

He started as a music teacher and then shortly after launched Ellis Music. WCAX News profiled him 20 years ago.

"Music is something that people tend to do more of during the recession, so we've weathered all the recessions," he told us in 1990.

The family business now rents out 4,000 band instruments to elementary school students in Vermont and New Hampshire every year.

Music, to say the least, is his passion.

"I don't know how you exactly put it in words," he said. "It's hard to put it in words."

He doesn't have to. The music speaks for itself. As he puts it, 50 ordinary people who love to play music.

Reporter Joe Carroll: You proud of your band?

Dick Ellis: Very!

Joe Carroll: Why?

Dick Ellis: Because they sound so good.

Years ago, the band was lacking a leader when they came to Dick.

"They knew I had some musical education so they invited me to try the band for a year," he said.

A year turned into 67. Barring health issues, he doesn't plan to retire. It's also a family affair; two of his four kids regularly play in the band.

From French horns to flutes, the man has taught thousands of Vermonters to play a tune.

"And if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be playing trumpet tonight. I would be sitting home watching television," said Phyllis Kadlub, a member of the band.

Harmony in the hills of Vermont... and a sweet note indeed.

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