The band leader and clothier: John Myers
In 1976, the Mansfield State College trustees honored John F. Myers, music professor and later owner of a clothing store, by naming the marching band’s practice field in his honor. The Mansfield University Marching Band calls itself the Pride of Pennsylvania for very good reason. Their practice field is named for one of the early band leaders.
Myers was a native of Ames, Iowa. He graduated from Kearney State College in Nebraska and later earned his master’s degree from the Teachers College of Columbia University. After serving in the Army during the First World War, he married Myrtle A. Scott in 1920. Four years later, the couple moved east. At the invitation of Grace Steadman, director of music, Myers joined the growing music program at Mansfield State Normal School. Myrtle also taught music at the normal school.
While teaching at Mansfield, Myers directed the annual band festival and brought a number of big name bands and other personalities to campus. In 1937, he served as president of the Pennsylvania State Teachers Education Association.
In 1929, Myers arranged a high school band festival and marching bands from Williamsport, Sunbury, Canton, Milton, Wellsboro, Coudersport, Smithfield, and Mansfield competed in Mansfield. By 1935, that event attracted 150 young musicians from 16 counties.
Myers also provided music for a number of community venues. Newspaper accounts of the day noted that he led the singing at the Teacher’s Institute in 1928; his band, the college symphonic orchestra, entertained at the 40th anniversary of the Mansfield Lodge of International Order of Odd Fellows; and he led the singing for the Mansfield Council of Republican women in 1938.
He also became interested in public service. During the Great Depression, he served on a committee that arranged employment for out-of-work music teachers as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs.
He was a member of the American Legion and later served in the Medical Unit of the Pennsylvania National Guard. During the Second World War, he served as Sector Air Raid Warden. In that capacity, he was responsible for training other air raid wardens.
He also got elected to the Mansfield Borough Council and served as treasurer until he passed away Jan. 22, 1958. After he died, Myrtle was asked to take over the treasurer’s post.
In addition, John Myers was a member of the Friendship Lodge of the Free and Accepted Masons, Phi Mu Alpha Symphonia, Tioga Valley Grange, Coudersport Consistory, and the board of the Mansfield Methodist Church. When he passed away, he was a member of the then newly formed Mansfield Joint School Authority.
Myers decided to leave his position at the State Teachers College in 1938 and take up a totally new profession. Between 1938 and 1950, he co-owned Garrison and Myers Clothing Store with Merle Garrison. That store was located on the corner of Main and Wellsboro Streets, where the Civil War Orphan’s School built by Fordyce Allen, once stood. In 1950, Myers sold his interest in the store to Garrison. Garrison’s grandson, Al, still runs a men’s clothing shop in Wellsboro.
That same year, Myers purchased the Ross Insurance Agency. That business kept the name “Myers Insurance Agency” until well after his death Jan. 22. 1958. Mrs. Myers worked at the agency until her retirement in 1964. She passed away in 1975.
The Myers’ son-in-law, William Fravel owned the agency until he retired in 1981 and sold it to Steve Saunders, who had worked there ten years. Saunders changed the name in 1983 to Saunders Insurance.