Beginning in the spring semester of 2017, Randy Decker will be the director of the historic, choral music program at Jacksonville College. Randy, a former student of long-time director Gerald Orr, accepted this position after the announced retirement of current director Tim Timmons. Randy was once a student of Gerald Orr, and the two will be working together again 40 years later.
Randy's arrival on the campus of Jacksonville College in the fall of 1974 changed the direction of his life. Upon becoming a member of the choir, he discovered an untapped passion for music and transitioned from pursuing civil engineering to music education. At JC, students frequently discover their love for music, make career changes, and become lifelong participants and leaders in church and school music programs. This is the legacy that Randy hopes to continue.
After singing in the choirs and ensembles at Jacksonville College, Randy completed his formal music education at Dallas Baptist University. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Education with All-Level Music Certification from DBU, a master’s degree in education from Stephen F. Austin University, and additional Texas certifications as a math teacher and principal.
When asked about his educational background, Randy said, “I received quality instruction while at Jacksonville College and Dallas Baptist University. In the musician’s world, one is usually shaped more by mentors than by performance experiences. From Gerald Orr and Jacksonville College I learned that choral music can be a very personal experience and offers tremendous opportunities. I knew nothing about choir, but a whole new world was offered me as we travelled from coast to coast singing great music, deepening lifelong friendships, and meeting thousands of wonderful people. I was truly in the right place at the right time. From Dr. Wesley Coffman and my piano instructors at DBU, I learned the craft of making music. Musicianship, text and context, phrasing, and vocal technique were developed as I completed my formal music education. My time working in Jacksonville ISD with Larry Cigainero reinforced all I knew about the value of hard work. While there, I was introduced to the world of competitive music in Texas. My grounding in the fundamentals and my approach to music preparation is based on emulating those things he did to achieve such amazing degrees of consistent excellence. He treated me like an equal when I wasn’t worthy to carry his notepad. I will forever be grateful to all three of my mentors and the experiences they afforded me. They were more than just my teachers and mentors; they were and are dear friends.”
Randy taught choir at both the junior high and high school levels for twenty-five years at Jacksonville High School and Middle School, Bryan Adams High in Dallas, Mt. Pleasant High, and Gilmer Junior High and High School. His students consistently performed with excellence in choral and individual performances, shows, and competitions. As a result, they received numerous awards and recognition. While he is proud of the trophies and recognition received in both group and individual competitions, he takes greatest pride in seeing so many students develop into outstanding men and women.
In addition to his work as a teacher/director, Randy served the Texas Music Educators Association as Vocal Chair, Region Vice-President, and State Music Advisory Board member for approximately 12 years of his career. Randy also composed and arranged many pieces that were performed by his junior high choirs in U.I.L. competition. He has written many sight-reading pieces used in Texas Music Educators vocal competitions as well. Randy was also active in leadership on the high school campus while in Mt. Pleasant Texas. He was selected by his peers as president of the site-based committee for Mt. Pleasant High. Their work over a two-year period and the campus wide improvements in academic achievement resulted in national recognition and an opportunity to present a workshop at the National Accelerated Schools Conference in St. Louis.
Randy served on church staff in the areas of youth and/or music while at First Baptist Church of Ennis, First Missionary Baptist in Terrell, Calvary Baptist in Jacksonville, and Walnut Street Baptist Church in Winnsboro. He was ordained as a deacon while a member of First Baptist Church of Gilmer. He currently serves as Minister of Music at Tundra Baptist Church in Canton.
Randy has maintained an active connection with Jacksonville College for 40 years through the Jacksonville College Alumni Association. He served as president of the Bearden-Bonner-Gaylor Chapter and a member of the Executive Council of the Alumni Association for most of the last 10 years. He has also volunteered many hours during the summer special projects programs. Randy currently serves as Director of Alumni Relations, a position he will maintain on a part-time basis in addition to his duties as choral director.
When asked about the opportunity to return to his alma mater, Randy said, “Mine is the story of a son returning after many years to work in the family business. I was meant to be a teacher. I was meant to be a choral director. I was meant to have the Jacksonville College experience. I was meant to share the Jacksonville College experience. I was meant to share the choral music experience. There is an amazing energy on this campus. New opportunities are being developed across the board even as the century old focus of our school is being reinforced. These are great days to be a part of Jacksonville College.”
Randy is the eldest child of Rev. and Mrs. George Decker. Bro. George pastored at East Center Baptist Church in Grand Saline while studying at Jacksonville College. He pastored Tundra Baptist Church for 11 years while that historic church was transforming from a little rural church of about twenty to one of the strongest churches in our work. Randy was raised in that little farming community south of Canton and gives credit to those blue-collar folks for shaping his life and work ethic.
His mother, Joan, has been very active in the BMA with her support of Bro. George’s ministry, work with the GMAs, and involvement in the WMA. Randy’s brother Jerry and sister-in-law Sherry Decker (current President of Texas WMA) met at Jacksonville College.
Randy is married to Gay Lynn Decker, his wife of 36 years. Gay is an RN whose work history includes 16 years as a visiting nurse and 20 years as a community outreach educator and nurse educator. Their son, Ryan, is a design engineer for Bell Helicopter. He, his wife Katie, and daughters Chloe and Ellie live in Amarillo, Texas. Randy and Gay’s daughter, Melissa Moulton, and her husband, Mike, live in Texarkana, Texas with their son, Jeremiah. Melissa works in marketing and graphic design and was the third generation Decker to attend Jacksonville College. Prayers are already being offered for the fourth generation.
Randy Decker, JC Music Program Director and Director of Alumni Relations