Leland "Pop" Armstrong
Leland 'Pop' Armstrong was born on May 16th, 1900 in Bedford, Indiana. His musical background was colorful and milestones for him and his bands were plentiful. He was a graduate of Bedford High School and Stetson university in Deland, Florida and took training at the Metropolitan School of Music in Indianapolis, which is now a part of Butler. He studied with Leslie E Peck of Indianapolis and also Professor Kryl of Chicago during the years of the great bands, including Sousa's. During his professional days he played under Innes and also under Sousa. Cornet was his favorite instrument.
After several years of traveling and playing professionally, Mr. Armstrong became the band director of Bedford High School in Indiana and remained there from 1930 until 1944. During his teaching career at Bedford he was awarded the Bedford Jaycees Distinguished Service Award. While he was band director at BHS, he wrote the Dedication March for the Otis Park bandshell. Several bands from southern Indiana participated in the ceremonies.
Mr. Armstrong and his family moved to Ocala, Florida in 1944 where he took over as band director at Ocala High School. The band gained national prominence when the governor of the state of Florida sent him and the band to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. The band, more commonly known as the 'Governor's Band' also participated in the Governor's Safety Parade in Rocky Mount, N.C.; as the Drill Band for the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas and participated in concert tours through Georgia, Alabama, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and several other states. In 1959, a new school building was built for Ocala High School on Fort King Street. With this move, the band saw a major upgrade to their facilities from what they had known at the old school building. Upgrades included much needed storage space, practice rooms, additional music rooms, a much larger "modern" tiered band room with direct access to the stage of a "state of the art" auditorium and performance hall that could seat 900 people. The previous school building was converted to Ocala Jr. High (today it is Osceola Middle School).
'Pop' as he preferred to be called, retired as the Ocala band director in 1962 after 19 years service, due to declining health. During his last years, he returned to Bedford where he was the guest conductor of the community band during the 'Summer concert' series. He died in 1963 after a two year battle with cancer.