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Honoring a beloved Tri-State music man as a KHQA Hometown Hero

Canton R-V High School marching band in 1985 homecoming parade (Photo courtesy of Canton High School Alumni){p}{/p}
Canton R-V High School marching band in 1985 homecoming parade (Photo courtesy of Canton High School Alumni)

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You could find dozens of Canton R-V High School alumni at Culver-Stockton College's homecoming parade this past Saturday.

The annual fall past-time turned out to be a very special and sentimental occasion for a long-time music teacher and his students.

Mr. Bill Berry spent decades teaching music and band at Canton High School.

He retired almost 20 years ago but still resides in Canton.

His students from each decade turned out to practice what he taught them during high school literally on the streets of Canton for C-SC's annual homecoming parade.

They grabbed their pom-poms to march in unison to say thank you to their very special music man.

Mr. Berry's students said he taught them much more than rests, notes, keeping time, and working together to play in unison.

They said the long-time educator kept everyone in line and demanded excellence while asking everyone to become their best selves both in and out of the classroom.

Mr. Berry served as the Canton R-V band director for almost 30 years.

However, his students said what he taught them has lasted a lifetime.

"Bill and Louis Berry are the definitions of making an impact on students' lives," former Canton drummer Bob Horner said.

A sentiment that many students are in agreement with.

"I feel like they're my family," former Canton band member Stacey Zahn Thompson said.

Zahn Thompson described Mr. Berry as more than just a band director.

"He took us all under his wing," she explained. "It didn't matter who you were, what your name was, what background you came from. He welcomed you."

Zahn Thompson remembers Mr. Berry's much-needed positive reinforcement.

"He was hard on you, but he loved us all," she said. "I think by this parade this weekend, you will see the respect everyone has for him."

Zahn Thompson said Mr. Berry and his wife helped students get summer jobs and travel to cities and states as far away as Alaska, showing them the world was bigger than Canton, Missouri.

Horner said acts such as that one are just some of the reasons that make Mr. Berry a KHQA Hometown Hero.

"I believe it is his sincerity, his heartfelt love for the town," Horner said. "And I believe the town has a heartfelt love for Bill Berry."

Berry said everything he did for the students was all out of love.

"I guess it makes me feel good," he said. "I don't think I was ever mean about being demanding."

On behalf of our sponsors, Peters Heating and Air and Hilbing Autobody, KHQA salutes our September Hometown Hero Mr. Bill Berry.

If you would like to nominate anyone for KHQA's Hometown Hero, submit your nomination here.

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