JMU MRD director remembers ‘legend’ Bill Posey

Published: May. 2, 2022 at 6:32 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - JMU’s Marching Royal Dukes are mourning the loss of a longtime staple in the program. Bill Posey passed away over the weekend. Posey was part of the MRDs from the late 1970s until his retirement a few years ago.

“Bill was a jack of all trades. He was an incredibly talented musician, an incredibly talented teacher, and incredibly selfless. He was a servant leader he wanted to serve the students, he wanted to serve the campus community in any way possible,” said Scott Rikkers, director of the Marching Royal Dukes.

Posey was born in Alexandria in 1953 and grew up in Fairfax County and attended Mark Twain Middle School and Groveton High School. He came to JMU as a student in the late 70s and was a drum major in the MRDs, and after his graduation, he was hired on as a staff member.

Over a span of several decades, Posey served in a variety of roles including assistant band director, marching coordinator, music professor, director of concert and support services, and PA announcer.

“He really was here almost the entire longevity of our program so far his presence became more of a tradition. Bill Posey became a tradition here,” said Rikkers.

Posey was a man of many talents. In addition to his work with the MRDs, he was a performing member of the Valley Wind Ensemble and conductor of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Concert Band. He also participated in Civil War reenactments in his free time.

“Bill was intense, but he was intense because he loved what he did and he was proud of this program and he had high expectations. But while he was intense he was also a lot of fun, he had a great sense of humor,” said Rikkers.

Over the years, Posey became like a father figure to generations of students in the marching band.

“He cared about every one of those students like they were his own and I think they all respected him as a really dedicated teacher and just an all-around wonderful human being,” said Rikkers.

Posey played a big role in building the MRDs into the nationally renowned program they are today and his legacy lives on in the program. Even though Posey retired before most of the current MRDs started at JMU, they still feel his impact.

“The members that didn’t get a chance to meet him still know that there was something special about Bill Posey and they’re aware that they’re continuing on with his legacy,” said Rikkers.

Rikkers worked with Posey for over a decade and said that Posey made a huge impact on him.

“I’m not here necessarily to just create a product, I’m here to create good people and I am dedicated to serving the program, the students, the university because Bill set that example. And I think that’s also what makes this program so special,” he said.

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