James L. Queen
February 10, 1941-October 17, 2022
Member of San Angelo MTA
Queen was born to Lowell W. and Mildred C. Queen February 10, 1941, in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. After graduating from Abilene High School in Abilene, Texas, he entered Baylor University and graduated with a Bachelor of Music Education degree. He taught choral music and music theory in several schools in Waco, 1965-1975. While teaching in Waco he completed a Master’s degree in Music at Baylor. He was active in the Texas Music Educators Association and held numerous regional offices and membership on the state Board of Directors.
Queen was also a church musician-organist for the First United Methodist Church, then Choirmaster and Organist for St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, and later associate organist at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, all of Waco.
He was a member of the Waco Jaycees and was named one of the Outstanding Young Men of Waco in 1971. He was a member of the Waco Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and held several offices including Dean of the Chapter. He earned the Choirmaster Certificate of the AGO [Ch.M.], a national certification.
From 1975-1980 he was Director of the secondary choral music program for the Lufkin Schools. He choirs were awarded numerous sweepstakes in both UIL and invitational contests. He brought members of the Shreveport, LA, symphony orchestra to perform Handel’s Messiah, with his choirs.
During the five years in Lufkin, he was Choirmaster and Organist at St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church in Lufkin and later at Christ Episcopal in Nacogdoches, Texas. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Lufkin Community Concert Association.
In 1980 he moved to Iowa City, Iowa, for doctoral study at the University of Iowa. He was awarded a teaching fellowship to teach undergraduate music education and conducting. He became Director of Music for the historic First Presbyterian Church of Iowa City, and his church choir and orchestra treated the city to numerous performances of choral/orchestral works.
He returned to his childhood home of San Angelo in 1985 to accept a position on the music faculty of Angelo State University. He was also appointed Director of the San Angelo Symphony Chorale and Choirmaster for the First Christian Church, a position he held until his death. After leaving Angelo State in 1987, he continued to work on his unfinished dissertation and taught privately.
In 1991 Queen completed his dissertation and was awarded the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in choral music literature and conducting. He founded and conducted the San Angelo Chamber Singers, which performed on the San Angelo Museum of Fine Art’s Chamber Music Series. He became an active member of the San Angelo Music Teachers Association holding several offices including president of the Association. He was a member of the Artistic Advisory Committee of the San Angelo Symphony and was a member of the Advisory Board of the Cultural Affairs Council.
He was preceded in death by his father, Lowell; mother, Mildred; and sister, Joy Carolyn Queen Russell. He is survived by his two sons, Collen and Geoffrey, and multiple grandchildren.
James was a good friend and neighbor. He cared greatly about his community, his students, and their families. His musicianship, humor, and kindness live on in the generations of students who learned from him; but also in the people who were lucky enough to have spent time in good conversation with James.
Mildred (Millie) Halbert
January 7, 1937-May 11, 2022
Member of Bay Area MTA
Noted music teacher Mildred Talkington Halbert died on May 11, 2022 in Houston of natural causes. She was eighty-five.
Mildred was the eldest of four children born to Estella McCarty Talkington and Clement H. Talkington in Jacksonville, Texas. When her younger sister Elizabeth, known as Ann, was sick as a child, Mildred helped their mother care for all the younger siblings, forming deep and loving relationships that lasted through their lifetimes.
Mildred attended East Texas Baptist University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music in 1958. While in college, the tall and striking Mildred worked as a fashion model but her life’s calling was undoubtedly music.
Upon graduation, Mildred moved to Galveston County to teach music in the La Marque School District. It was there that she met her husband Robert Henry Halbert. They married in 1960 and soon started a family. After becoming a mother to daughter Allison — and, later, to son Randall – Mildred began teaching piano in a private studio in her home, which she continued to do for more than fifty years.
Mildred taught thousands of students, of all ages. She formed deep bonds with her pupils, many of whom she took under her wing and considered her “children.” She ensured her students had two lessons a week, one at the piano and the other in music theory. She also offered her students “piano camp” to help them further build upon their skills during the summer. As a teacher, she was tough but inspiring and, as a result, many of her students won awards, both at the state and national levels. And, many went on to pursue careers in music at such prestigious institutions as Julliard. Mildred herself travelled to New York City to do graduate work at Teachers College at Columbia University.
Mildred was a member of the Texas State Music Teachers Association, a member and past president of Bay Area Music Teachers Association, as well as a member of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Music Honor Society.
Mildred was a gifted pianist herself. She could play anything on the piano, with hundreds of songs committed to memory. She was the longtime pianist at First Baptist Church in La Marque and, several times, performed as a guest with the Houston Symphony.
Mildred was a strong, independent and youthful spirit. She was known to be brutally honest (except with regards to her age). She was a force of nature with boundless energy and she dedicated most of that energy to others. When her husband was struggling with multiple sclerosis, Mildred became a caretaker in addition to her role as mother, grandmother and teacher. Taking it all in stride, Mildred still found time to maintain close and meaningful relationships with friends and extended family.
Mildred lavished her loved ones with affection, stories and music. She told vivid, inspiring tales about her childhood and enjoyed exploring her father’s Cherokee lineage. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her but her legacy lives on in so many people and so many ways.
She is proceeded in death by her husband, her parents and her beloved brother, Dr. C.M. ”Mack” Talkington. She is survived by Randall Halbert and his wife, Michelle Halbert, of Spring; Allison Johnson and her husband, Jay Johnson, of Kyle, Texas; sister Elizabeth “Ann” Ramazetti and her husband, Gene Ramazetti, of Spring, Texas; and sister Sue Talkington of Dallas. Grandchildren Stephanie Soileau and her husband, Stephan Soileau, of Concord, California; Matthew Mason of Houston; and Samuel Mason of Fort Worth. Step-granddaughter Lauren Mullins and her husband, MacKenzie Mullins, of Conroe, Texas. And her niece and five nephews Amy Talkington of Los Angeles, Carty Talkington of Los Angeles, David Ramazetti of St. George, Utah; and Steve Willmon, Jon Willmon and Jason Willmon of Benton, Arkansas. And sister-in-law Martha Halbert Willmon, also of Benton.
In addition to her loving family, Mildred leaves behind scores of past students who were wholly changed by her dedicated and passionate teaching.