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Marching Out: Pickens requested marching band at celebration of life

Boone with band

T. Boone Pickens sits in with the Cowboy Marching Band in 2006 against Nebraska.

T. Boone Pickens always marched to the beat of his own drum and was not afraid step out of rhythm with the world around him.

As the Cowboy family mourns the loss of one of its greatest mega-boosters, Pickens’ wants his life celebrated similarly to how he lived: with the marching band.

Pickens made one thing clear in the lead up to his death: he doesn’t want to be mourned.

Instead, Pickens emphasized having a celebration of life, according to the Director of the Cowboy Marching Band, and ensured the events after his death went the way he wanted by planning them a few years in advance.

“Mr. Pickens was getting old and his health was starting to decline a couple of years ago,” Douglas Henderson said. “So, some of his staff at B.P. Capital and himself and administrators from OSU got together and started planning a celebration of life for him that was going to take place. That included not only stuff here in Stillwater for the OSU community but also back in Dallas where some of his other connections are. So, the whole plan we came up with was early on in Dallas would be the first place he would have his memorial service, and then here we would have a celebration of life.”

Pickens specifically asked for the Cowboy Marching Band to be at his celebration of life, playing upbeat music and helping the crowd celebrate.

“We specifically asked if Mr. Pickens wanted the marching band or a concert group that would play more sort of somber music,” Henderson said. “It was a very clear response that the marching band was what was wanted because it is not going to be a somber event, even though we are all sad and mourning his loss, he wants it to be a celebration of what he contributed to the university.”

The Cowboy Marching Band will “more than likely” be playing tunes from their 2016 “Gospel Show,” bringing uplifting music to the event.

Music graduate student Brent Baldwin, who completed his undergraduate degree at OSU in 2010, said it was “remarkable” to see how the university was changing at the tail-end of T. Boone Pickens Stadium being complete.

“They were finishing up bowling in the stadium when I was a freshman here in 2006,” Baldwin said. “It was amazing to see all the suites going in and to see the stadium take shape because really before the renovations it looked like a big high school football stadium, now it really is almost a Taj Mahal of football fields.”

Requesting the Cowboy Marching Band at his celebration of life just shows how highly members of the OSU community view the marching band, and it’s an honor the band members are not taking lightly.

“Honestly I’m really honored that he views us so highly that he would want us playing at his celebration of life,” said Garrett Brisco, Cowboy Marching Band band president. “His death is a shock to all of the cowboy nation and it’s going to be different without him, but he always lives in our hearts.”