GET TO KNOW THE 2020 HALL OF FAME FINALISTS

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JOHN ARMSTRONG

Staff 1977-1988

John was a key part of Spirit of Atlanta from the very beginning, when an Atlanta drum corps was just the idea of a South Cobb band director and some friends. One of the first staff members hired, Armstrong served on the teaching staff for 11 years and handled anything that the staff needed. In his own words, John “taught marching, worked with the horn line, participated in programming meetings, wrote the drill for Let It Be Me in 1978, arranged some music, lined fields, sold souvenirs, taught the original contra line, drove every vehicle Spirit owned, and helped talk Jim Ott into coming to Atlanta.”

John Armstrong has been a teacher, mentor, and dedicated servant to Spirit of Atlanta since the very beginning.


 

TYLER BARRON

Member 2000-2004 | Board of Directors 2015-Present

TyIer Barron joined Spirit in 2000 as a 15 year old auditioning for an activity that his mother, aunt, and grandparents had all participated in.  He is part of a true drum corps family.  After five seasons with Spirit on contra, he graduated from Georgia State with a degree in Finance in 2007.   Experience along the way ranged from managing cash flow for a restaurant company to being a leading software architect for Microsoft’s flagship enterprise resource planning software.

Since 2016 Tyler has been an essential member of the Board of Directors in his role as Treasurer and CFO.  His business acumen has helped the corps overcome the financial difficulties of the time. He has been instrumental in bringing the business standards and processes of drum corps into the 21st century.  Tyler’s focus has been on cash flow planning, business process automation, and working to reduce overhead costs and delivering expedient financial reporting. Tyler says, “my goal is to make Spirit a thought leader in the financial drum corps activity with a hope to help stabilize our corps, other corps, and the activity as a whole.”

Tyler Barron has been an architect in building a solid Spirit of Atlanta that will not just live, but thrive.


 

KASSI GULLIFORD

Member 2001-2007 | Volunteer – 2008 – Present

Kassi Gulliford auditioned in December 2000 as a 15-year-old tuba player. She ended up on baritone in the 2001 hornline and held that spot every summer until aging out in 2007. Aside from the sheer dedication it takes to march 7 consecutive seasons (a feat which only a select few have accomplished), Kassi was the quintessential Spirit member. She was never a section leader or horn sergeant, never played solos or even lead parts. What she did was lead by example in all things and show hundreds of others how it is done along the way.

While many would have needed a break after a 7-season career, Kassi immediately made the transition behind the scenes and approached her volunteer work the same way. From driving, working the food truck, and even teaching, Kassi gave Spirit her best while never seeking the spotlight.

Her most notable contribution to the legacy was her efforts in creating and managing the “Field Your Delta” program which brought current members and alumni together in a very positive way.


 

BOB HOEHN

(d. 2007) Co-Founder of Spirit of Atlanta

Bob Hoehn came to Atlanta in 1973 and volunteered with local high school marching bands, ultimately joining forces with Freddy Martin at South Cobb High School. Together they worked to create Spirit of Atlanta Drum and Bugle Corps – launched in the fall of 1976. Bob became the corps’ director (Freddy was President) during Spirit’s inaugural year.  He guided the organization financially, logistically, and programmatically during its first few years, as well as navigating the DCI community of judges, rival corps, and administrators across the country. His stature in the larger drum corps community was a significant resource for Spirit and he was beloved by all who knew him. 

Later in Spirit’s long history, Bob assisted during the difficult mid-1990s, helping the corps secure a sponsorship from Peachtree City, enabling the corps to return from near demise after not competing in 1994.  He intervened and helped again in the early 2000s when the corps transitioned into Spirit of JSU, offering his extensive wisdom and credibility.

Bob Hoehn never stopped supporting or loving the organization, over the course of 40 years, and his legacy is eternal. 


 

GARY KORIZON

(d. 2014) Member 1977-1983 | Long-time Volunteer

Gary Korizon was the first of what has become an extremely exclusive group: 7-Year members of Spirit of Atlanta.  Even as a 14-year-old rookie he is remembered as having the maturity and ability to listen without saying anything. He always knew what was going on but could wait until the appropriate time to express his views. 

He is fondly remembered by fellow alumni as being quick to take new members under his wing and help them find their place in Spirit. It has been said of Gary, that there were more accomplished horn players but there was no one more dedicated, no one more prepared and no one more proud to represent his corps. In his age-out season he was recognized for his unique achievement with the Directors Award. 

One would have to look hard to find anyone more proud or with more love for the Baby Blue than Gary Korizon.


 

TOMMY MADDOX

Member 1977-1980 | Staff/Board of Directors 1981-2004

Tommy Maddox was a charter member whose marching career was only the beginning of a long affiliation. He served as part of the instructional staff for 12 seasons, also joining the Board of Directors and serving as Chairman.  Tommy gave years of service well beyond his time as a performer. Whether teaching marching, handling business affairs, or being the corps in-house attorney when it was necessary, Tommy always made sure Spirit of Atlanta was always in good hands. Like many others, the corps was how he met his wife (a show hostess from Illinois whose job was to usher Spirit around their town). Most importantly, he was all-in for the Spirit family – no matter what was needed.

Tommy is best known for being an exemplary “alto” among other things, always smiling and generating laughs. On the serious side, his work to help protect Spirit of Atlanta using his legal expertise cannot be overlooked. Tommy played a key role in creating the 501c3 corporation that still manages the corps today.


 

DR. TODD SNEAD

Brass Caption Head 2009-2010, Asst. Corps Director 2011, Executive Director 2012 – 2014

Todd Snead joined Spirit in 2009 as Brass Caption Head. He quickly rose to the level of Assistant Corps Director and then Executive Director, where he remained through 2014.  He is perhaps best known for providing leadership for the corps through a period that saw Spirit climb back into DCI Finals in 2011, 2012 and 2013 for the first time since 2007. The creative and competitive success of the corps under Todd’s leadership tells only a small fraction of the story. Like so many of Spirit’s most important leaders and benefactors, the managerial and financial support that Todd Snead brought to Spirit during those years went a long way toward keeping the corps on the road.

Todd and Spirit’s creative team developed a string of shows that are remembered as fan favorites and were a lot of fun to watch – and to perform. Spirit came back into national prominence during that important time. He was also instrumental in returning the corps back to its home town and reviving the original “Spirit of Atlanta” name.


 

NINA VONO

(d, 2009) Volunteer (Food Crew Magician) 1982 – 1990

Nina Vono was a dedicated volunteer with Spirit of Atlanta when her daughters marched in the hornline and beyond. She attended nearly every winter camp and joined the food crew “specializing” in drinks and snacks. Lovingly dubbed the “Tea Lady,” she was very resourceful and creative with the beverages she prepared (including  the odd-colored but tasty mystery drinks made from leftovers). Nina toured with the corps throughout the summer as well, always keeping everyone well-hydrated and replete with potassium—she peddled bananas like she owned a fruit stand.

Nina started with two biological children marching, but adopted the other 126 as her own each summer as well. She was caregiver, friend, and mom to all. Nina had a remarkable way of dealing with people which made her encounters feel special and personal. Her mind was like a steel trap; even if she hadn’t seen someone in years, she could recall small details they discussed the last time they met. Nina epitomized the “Spirit” in Spirit of Atlanta. She loved the people, she loved the music, and she loved the activity. Her devotion to her children benefited all of the staff and marching members of Spirit of Atlanta.

Nina’s contributions to the corps and the lives she impacted during that time are legacy and won’t be forgotten.


 

TOMMY WHITTEN

Volunteer/Board of Directors/Board President 1997- 2000s

Tommy Whitten first became affiliated with Spirit of Atlanta when his son joined in the fall of 1997. He was quickly inspired to help out during the camps. He prepared meals, cut material for flags, drove shuttles for kids – whatever was needed. He later became Volunteer Coordinator and served in many roles for the next three years.

In 2001, when management was considering folding or not touring, a new corporation was formed (Friends of Spirit) and Tommy became the Chairman. By engaging a lot of parent volunteers and tremendous support from SOA Alumni, the corps carried on with Tommy as Chairman for another year. The groundwork was laid to solidify the organization and help it evolve and transition to Jacksonville State University.

Tommy Whitten was significant in providing a future for Spirit that many thought was not possible.