Native musician returns to Barnwell to show musical support for museum

There will always be a special place in Barnwell native and singer/musician David Woodard Jr.'s heart for the Fuller House.

Prowling its corridors and discovering its bookshelf treasures as a young boy helped kick-start Woodard' s interest in education.

It's for those reasons, and others, that Woodard is returning to Barnwell to help raise money for the rehabilitation of the Fuller House.

As a junior high student, Woodard was told by his teacher to go to the library - then the Fuller House - and finish some research papers that were well beyond the due date, he said.

"So I spent much of that spring getting to know the Readers' Guide and the articles and books the research took me to," said Woodard.

As Woodard began delving into research on the Cuban missile crisis, he found himself enjoying the work to the point that it became fun.

"I began to relish my time looking through the rooms of the mansion for sources," said Woodard.

Woodard's said the time spent in the Fuller House left an indelible mark on his psyche.

Toward the end of the school year Woodard's teacher commended him in front of the class and told him his paper's were the most expressive of all the papers written.

"The motivation and confidence gained helped carry me through graduate school and kept me from dropping out of college when things got tough around my sophomore year," said Woodard.

The Barnwell County Museum is having the third event in its cultural arts series Sunday, March 29, 3 p.m. at the Barnwell Presbyterian Church.

Admission is free but donations will be accepted to help rehabilitate the Fuller House - the future site of the Barnwell County Museum.

Woodard will be singing bass and baritone and playing the euphonium, along with fellow musicians Mildred Suter on organ and Julia Harlow on piano and organ.

The trio will be performing inspirational psalms and classical music by such composers as B.F. Handel and Feliz Mendelssohn.

Woodard fondly remembers sitting in the Fuller House's sun porch where he and other children were read Dr. Seuss tales and other children's books.

"In those days Mrs. Hagood's kindergarten walked to the library through the scent of camellias, box wood, tea olive and other blooming trees and flowers along Main and Marlboro Streets," he said.

Woodard has many other good memories of his hometown.

"I rode my bike to and from the Barnwell airport to hang out and beg for airplane rides," said Woodard.

On his 16th birthday, under the eyes of instructors Wendell Gibson and Melvin Bagwell he finally soloed, he said.

Barnwell is also the place which fostered Woodard's love of music.

"I grew up in Barnwell First Baptist Church and was forced to go to choir on Sunday afternoons and evenings from beginner level in kindergarten through my mid-teens," said Woodard.

But Woodward's trepidation toward the chorus faded as he began to eagerly await singing and soon joined three choruses.

His love for music also grew and by high school he was in the school marching band playing percussion with the Scarlet Knights.
He also started playing an old double-bell euphonium, said Woodard.

"I was a beginner baritone player, which led to a real Besson euphonium in college," he said.

Woodard left Barnwell for the Univeristy of South Carolina in 1975 to study music education.

He said he served as interim music director at First Baptist Church from February to June of 1979, while commuting from Columbia during student teaching in Sumter.

For many years, he directed middle school and high school bands in Irmo which won numerous state championships.

He has served as guest clinician/conductor for many bands and band clinics nationwide, including Sousa Foundation Southeastern Middle School Band; for Irmo High School Winds at Carnegie Hall; and Irmo Middle School Band performed at Midwest Clinic, Chicago, Ill.

Presently, Woodward is director of C.E. Williams Middle Bands in Charleston.