Hernando neighbors | Roger V. Brassard, 82

Hernando neighbors: Roger V. Brassard, Timber Pines Big Band's baritone sax player

Spring Hill resident Roger Brassard plays the baritone sax in the Timber Pines Big Band. He used to play in the 39th Army National Guard Band and the 50th Army Band. Today, he also plays sax with the Sounds of Music in Tampa.

Jean Hayes | Times

Spring Hill resident Roger Brassard plays the baritone sax in the Timber Pines Big Band. He used to play in the 39th Army National Guard Band and the 50th Army Band. Today, he also plays sax with the Sounds of Music in Tampa.

How long have you lived in Hernando County, and where do you live? Where did you live previously?

My wife, Ruth, and I moved to Timber Pines in 1983. Previously, we lived and worked in Melbourne for 25 years. I was born in Manchester, N.H.

Who are the members of your family?

I met Ruth while I was playing with the 243rd Army Band in Virginia. We have been married for 56 years and have two children, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Tell us about your career.

After high school, I joined the 39th Army National Guard Band in Manchester. We played at dances around northern New England. I was drafted into the Army in 1952. After basic training, I served as a musician in the armed services. During my enlistment, I also served with the 50th Army Band in Fort Monroe, Va.

When my military service ended, I attended Florida State University on the GI Bill. Meanwhile, my wife worked for the Florida Department of Education in Tallahassee while I was in school. After college (1959), I began teaching French and Spanish at Melbourne High School. I retired from the school system in 1979.

I established my own business: the Language Studies Institute. I sold the business in 1983 and moved to Hernando County.

What kinds of activities are you involved in now?

Currently, I play the baritone sax in the Timber Pines Big Band. We rehearse each week and frequently perform for dances at the Timber Pines Lodge or the Timber Pines Performing Arts Center. On occasion, we perform at local churches and for civic organizations.

In addition to the Timber Pines band, I also play with the Sounds of Music, a big band under the direction of Jim Burge. The band is based at the Carrollwood Cultural Center in greater Tampa. This band performs around the greater Tampa Bay area. Our first performance will be Jan. 22.

Tell me more about the Timber Pines group.

The Timber Pines Big Band, under the direction of Ed DeAngelo, was formed to allow retired musicians in Timber Pines to continue to play for self enjoyment and share their talents with friends and neighbors. The band is dedicated to recreating the big band sound. New members, who are band instrument proficient and who can read big band scores, are always welcome.

The band began with five members, and though it has lost and added members over the years, currently there are 17 members. In addition to myself, the reed section includes: Bob Burtt (tenor sax), Byron Carter (alto sax), Dick Coleman (tenor sax) and Charlie Longenecker (alto sax/clarinet). The brass section includes: Ed DeAngelo, Ken Wallace, Dick Buelow and Barbara Arnold (all on trumpet), and Lowell Davis and Dan Sewesky (on trombone). The rhythm section includes: Dean Alspach and Janet Davis (both on piano), Len Hawkins and Roger Hittler (both on drums), John Ceccacci (guitar) and Phil Comerate (bass).

Do you have any special hobbies?

In addition to languages and music, I enjoy reading. I also watch and listen to my extensive collection of DVDs and CDs, records and cassettes. I am a member of the Jazz Club of Sarasota and the Woody Herman Society.

My wife and I enjoy traveling.

What are your favorite things to do in Hernando County?

I am a member of the Hernando Jazz Society and have attended many local performances. My wife and I also like to dine out at our favorite restaurants here in Hernando County.

What do you think would make Hernando County a better place to live?

Like many other residents, I would like to see a large book store like Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million locate here.

I would also like to see a community park established in Spring Hill with a large gazebo or stage for a concert or community band. Presently, we only have Weeki Wachee Springs State Park to host this type of event. The park would be beneficial to many, including the Hernando Symphony Orchestra, as well as the many local high school students and resident musicians.

Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know.

I have a bachelor's degree from FSU and a master's degree from Millersville State University in Pennsylvania. While I was a teacher, I was the recipient of two National Defense Education Act awards to pursue graduate studies in French — one at Louisiana State University and one at the University of Toulouse in France.

During my teaching career, I always told my students that everyone is born with certain "inborn" abilities. If you find that you are good at something and like it, pursue it!

Hernando Neighbors is an occasional feature of the Hernando Times. Do you know someone who would make a good profile? We'd like to hear from you. Contact Jean Hayes, community news coordinator, at jhayes@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1438.

Hernando neighbors: Roger V. Brassard, Timber Pines Big Band's baritone sax player 01/13/11 [Last modified: Thursday, January 13, 2011 6:53pm]

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