Title: Musician, music educator
Birthdate: November 30, 1865
Death Date: June 8, 1947
Plot Location: Section 124, Lot 2

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A career in music is more than just a job. It provides an opportunity for expression, creativity, and variety, and it was Tom’s life. As it so often does, it began in childhood, with particular influence from his father. 

A newspaper article commemorating his father’s 35th anniversary with the Postal Service hinted at that when it said he was “prominent in musical society circles.” Tom’s two brothers dabbled in it as well, with one of them opening a music store that sold instruments. He also had three sisters, and there were three others who did not survive past the age of three.

Tom married Almina Bailey in 1892 and they had three children in that decade, Harvard, Mildred, and Elizabeth. His instrument of choice was the trumpet, and it’s likely he got his start playing with a local band in the city, and later with the Philadelphia Navy Yard Band.

The same year Tom was honeymooning, John Philip Sousa, “America’s March King,” left his job as conductor of the United States Marine Band. He formed his own band that toured for nearly 40 years, and Tom was one of the first members. The photo above shows him in what may be a Sousa uniform. Tom play in the very first public performance of “Stars and Stripes Forever” at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music in 1897.

One of his best friends was a trombone virtuoso named Arthur Pryor. He was an original member of the Sousa Band, a frequent soloist, and after just three years he became the assistant conductor. 

Arthur’s father had been a well-known band leader, but he died in 1902. Arthur decided to leave Sousa to take over a reorganized Arthur Pryor Band. It may have been at this point, or soon afterwards, that he invited Tom to join. They toured for a few years, then made Asbury Park, New Jersey the band’s home. Thanks to a deal with Victor Records, Pryor was soon hailed as “an American institution.” 

Extensive touring was probably not compatible with Tom’s role as husband and father, so he may have eventually sought steadier work closer to home. His next great opportunity was sitting under the baton of Leopold Stokowski, who led the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1912-1938. The dates in which he was employed there are unknown, but he played a leading role in unionizing the orchestra. This is a photo of Tom with his son, Harvard Wood Rivel, before he was sent to France in World War I.

(As a side note, Harvard was named after a friend of Tom’s, the president of H.C. Wood Cemetery Memorials. It is still in business today on Baltimore Pike in Lansdowne, across from Fernwood Cemetery. His great-grandson, H.C. Wood IV, serves on the board of the Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery, Inc.)

The two major paths in a career in music are performing and education. Teaching music can be as satisfying as performing but without the stress. The next occupation on Tom’s résumé was a train ride away on the “main line.” He became bandmaster at the Valley Forge Military Academy. That school for boys was started in 1928. 

His obituary says his last job was teaching trumpet at the Wurlitzer School of Music in Philadelphia. He was there until about a year before his death in 1947.

Tom outlived all of his siblings, and all of them were interred at Mount Moriah. His parents and at least 13 other relatives are in the family plot in Section 12, while Tom and his wife are together in Section 124 on the Yeadon side.

Japanese maple tree in front of a monument at Mount Moriah Cemetery

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