The Northside Fine Arts department has been influenced and shaped by the teaching talents and administrative skills of many people over the years. However, the direction and vision of the music department was shaped by one person, Bob Lewis. Lewis spent 33 years as music teacher and eventually music supervisor for Northside ISD. In 1957, Northside Schools were vastly different from present day NISD in terms of students, facilities, and fine arts staff. The District was mostly rural. The high school and junior high were located on the site of present day Marshall High School. There were six elementary schools that were spread throughout the District's 355 square miles. In 1957, there were 2,157 students and one music specialist.
When Bob Lewis was hired as band director of Northside High School in 1957, music offerings were limited. The only music that students experienced was through supplemental teachings offered by general classroom teachers. Although Lewis was not the first band director of Northside High School, the program he inherited consisted of 36 students with limited musical knowledge. Throughout the years, the fine arts programs at Northside continued to expand as the District grew.
Today, tens of thousands of students are involved in fine arts programs at NISD including art, band, choir, theater, dance, orchestra, art history, jazz, madrigals, mariachi, and theater production. Northside regularly ranks in the "top ten" in the number of students selected to the Texas Music Educator All-State Band/Choir/Orchestra, and regularly qualifies for Texas State UIL One-Act Play competition and Texas State UIL Marching Contest.
Born in Abilene, Lewis' musical career began around the age of 11 when he picked up his first trumpet. He graduated from Abilene High School in 1943. He attended both Hardin-Simmons University and North Texas State University before being called into service by the Army in January 1945. He rose to the rank of Tech Sergeant and was among the first troops into occupied Japan. He left after two years and returned to Hardin-Simmons to graduate with a bachelor's degree in music in 1948 and eventually earned a master's degree in education from Our Lady of the Lake University.
After working for one year as a music teacher at Sanderson and Abilene, he became band director of Hondo High School and stayed there for six years before joining the NISD staff in 1957.
Lewis and Celeste, his wife of more than 60 years, have six children: Chris Lewis, Greg Lewis, Theresa Espinosa, Mary Anna Smith, David Lewis, and Gabriel Lewis. They also have 14 grandchildren and one great grandson.
Lewis says that he truly enjoyed being part of the Northside District and watching it grow over the many years. "And now, by naming a school in my honor, they are enabling me to continue to be a part of the school district that I love so much," he said. "It is the highest honor I can think of and I am very honored and humbled."
Mr. Lewis retired from Northside in 1990. During his time at Northside, he enriched the lives of thousands of students and staff members. Mr. Lewis is known throughout Northside ISD as "The Music Man."