Bill McGrath…His Life Set the Example

Posted on November 26th, 2023

By the way he lived his life, Bill McGrath defined the concept of “the Good Soldier”. The values and discipline he absorbed in Drum Corps as a member of the Chili (“Chai-lai”) Crimson Cadets and the Emerald Cadets/Emerald Statesmen (directed by his father, William, Sr.) shaped his attitudes about loyalty and responsibility. When his country called, he enlisted in the Marines, becoming both member and instructor for The Commandant’s Own Drum and Bugle Corps in Washington, D.C., from 1969 to ’71.

He went on to teach the Baltimore Yankee Rebels and Rochester Crusaders, both of them American Legion National Champions. Others who benefitted from his tutoring include the Rochester Phoenix, the Patriots, and Mighty St. Joe’s Alumni, where he both instructed and played in the snare line.

In addition, Sergeant First-Class McGrath served as percussion section leader with the 98th Division US Army Reserve Band, from 1989 to 2006, and was recognized with the Army Achievement, Army Commendation, and Army Meritorious Service medals.

Bill adjudicated percussion for the Western New York Judges Association, NY Federation of Contest Judges, NY State Field Band Conference, NYSSMA, DCA, and DCI.

He was granted Lifetime Membership and Lifetime Achievement Awards by the US Association of Rudimental Drummers, and Honorary Membership in the National Association of Rudimental Drummers. He also holds membership in the American Patriots Rudimental Drum Club Hall of Fame, the Drumming for Veterans Hall of Fame, the Maryland Drum Corps Hall of Fame, and the Rochester Crusaders Hall of Fame.

In 1994, Bill McGrath was inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame, serving on that board since then as Historian, Chaplain, and Yearbook Editor…simultaneously.

Whenever a mission needed a leader, he was the first to volunteer and, even in his final weeks, he was determined to see to it that the 2023 WDCHOF Yearbook would be ready on time. Mission accomplished, …by Bill McGrath, Good Soldier.

Drum Corps will not see his like again, but we were all privileged to share the field with him.

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