Charles Kuentz was a beloved Northside band director who instilled in his students a passion for music and taught them about the importance of character, commitment, and work ethic.
Kuentz grew up in a musical family that often would get together with friends for jam sessions on Sunday afternoons. His mother played the piano, his father played the fiddle and accordion, and Kuentz played the trumpet, just like his older sister.
Though Kuentz lived in the Woodlawn lake area as a boy, he frequently visited his grandparents' dairy farm in Helotes. His grandfather was Henry T. Brauchle - also a musician, an educator, and a Northside namesake. O'Connor High School, and now Kuentz Elementary School, sit on the site of the former Brauchle dairy farm.
After graduating from Jefferson High School in 1952, Kuentz enrolled in Texas Lutheran College. It was here that he met his wife Judy, a fellow musician and future NISD music teacher. Kuentz was studying to become a minister until his college band director suggested he think about a career in music.
Kuentz quickly realized that "ministering" to children through music was his calling. Kuentz switched majors, and after completing his degree, he began working as a music teacher and band director in Rocksprings, Charlotte, and Three Rivers.
His family, which would eventually include six children, returned to San Antonio, and in 1969, Kuentz became the band director at Jefferson, his alma mater. In 1974, he joined Northside, first at Hobby Middle School, and then a year later, at Marshall High School.
He revolutionized the Ram Band, bringing in showmanship, choreography, and music that made the half-time performance a must-see event at football games. He put the Ram Band on the map ( and in the record books ) when they were invited to play in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif. in 1977. To help raise money for the trip, students held a "band-a-thon" to break the Guinness World Record for the longest, continuously playing band. It took 52 hours, but they broke the record.
Despite the many accolades and awards the Ram Band received, students say it was the life lessons Kuentz taught them that had the biggest impact. Kuentz served as a father figure to many of his students, serving as a role model for self-discipline, teamwork, and taking pride in one's work.
In 1982, Kuentz moved to Rudder Middle School to be the school's first band director. He retired in 1992, but still remains actively involved with music as Director of the Helotes Community Band.
The Kuentz tradition of music, education, and character isn't likely to fade anytime soon. Numerous former students of Kuentz have gone on to be music teachers and educators, including three of his own children, who all teach in Northside ISD.