Clarence Otis Trubey

1895 - 1979

Although Clarence Trubey spent the first eighteen years of his career as a principal, he spent the remaining 23 years teaching a number of subjects, including directing the band at two Adventist colleges.

Clarence was born in Jewel City, Kansas, one of seven children and the oldest of four sons of David Cyrenus and Lulie Adell Pratt Trubey. He married Helen Richert in 1919, and they had one child, Orville.  After Helen’s death in 1921, he married Elizabeth Elvira Voth in 1923, and they would have two sons, Merlin and Norman, and a daughter, Betty. 

One of his first appointments was as principal at Shafter Academy in the San Joaquin Valley in California. While there he started a small band which became very popular. Because of his success with that group he was invited to start a band at Glendale Academy. He again was successful in this venture and in 1945 was invited to serve as band director at La Sierra College, now La Sierra University. Three years later he accepted an offer from Walla Walla College, now University, to direct their band program.

Upon his arrival at WWC, he immediately began a campaign to purchase uniforms for the band and by February had reached his goal. After a brief performance for a student assembly when the uniforms came, he took the band on a tour to complete the fundraising. A student writing in the school paper in March of that first year expressed his appreciation and that of fellow students for the dramatic change in the band:

Commendations and felicitations to the 65-piece Walla Walla Concert Band, and a big orchid to its conductor, Clarence O. Trubey! This past weekend they went on a concert tour, presenting programs in four different cities. Two sacred programs were given at Columbia Academy on Friday evening and at the high school auditorium in Hilisboro, Oregon, on Sabbath afternoon. Unusually large audiences received these numbers enthusiastically.

A large and friendly audience in the Benson Auditorium in Portland greeted Professor Trubey and the band as they began the secular concert with the Walla Walla College song. The applause that grew more profuse from the audience as the concert progressed would indicate that the college band is a great success....

In the next six years, participation in the college band increased to over sixty members, and his concerts, which were crowd-pleasing events, were well attended. While he was noted for his showmanship and his programming was generally light, he always managed to present at least one significant work for band at each concert.

The 1952 yearbook referred to the band as "one of the college's best features." This high regard was undoubtedly enhanced by a February concert that year that had featured Leonard B. Smith, known nationally as "America's premier cornet soloist."

Although Trubey had a reputation for running a well-organized program and productive rehearsals, a student writing in the college paper in 1955 imaginatively described the chaos in a rehearsal prior to a concert:

Walking across the campus Tuesday or Thursday noon one hears the air suddenly rent by a sound not unlike all the animals in the jungle screaming in unison. Curious souls that we are, we investigate and find it coming from the music annex. As we open the door and peer in, our ears are rocked by a terrible, bleating, split tone.... One of the lads in the first horn section (better known as the sewer-pipe section) has once again lost his instrument....

There is silence. A voice full of authority rings out, "When can we have a special practice session?" Again deathly silence descends as a cloak upon the room. Again a voice is heard:

"In that case, it will be at 8:30 tomorrow night." As a peel of thunder, many voices cry forth, "No! No! Labs, study, previous engagements, etc."....

Out of the jumble of off-key playing, split tones, sickening vibrato by the trombones, and miscellaneous bits of mad confusion, comes at last the beautiful music that we were privileged to hear last Saturday night in Columbia Auditorium.

The WWC experience was the apex of Trubey's musical career. Although he was sixty when he left, he continued to teach music as well as other subjects for several more years before retiring.

In addition to his band work, he also started the first music education degree program at WWC.  A Clarence O. Trubey Scholarship award was established at WWC in 2004     primarily through the efforts of Sydney Stewart, one of the first graduates from that program, who would subsequently teach music for 36 years. It provides assistance for students like Trubey and Stewart, who love the sound of a band and aspire to work with young people. 

The Trubeys were living in Loma Linda, California, when he died at age 84.


Sources: Obituary, Pacific Union Recorder, 24 September, 1979;  Dan Shultz, A Great Tradition, Music at Walla Walla College,1892-1992, Color Press, 1992, 95, 103,104; F. Cuthbert (Albert Westcott), “Musically Speaking,” The (WWC) Collegian, 3 February 1955; North Pacific Union Gleaner, 14 September 1948, 5; 1920 U.S. Federal Census Records; World War I Registration Card, 5 June 1917; Swift/Salatrik

/Szczesniak Family Trees ,; (First marriage) Social Security Death Index; personal knowledge (Clarence O. Trubey scholarship).