Danny Jaynes: A life of music, military and...bees?

Apr. 10, 2013 @ 05:44 PM

Danny Jaynes has two passions: bees and music.

It’s an odd mix, but it all makes sense once you hear his story.

Jaynes’s education in Caldwell County helped prepare him for the music part. He attended Kings Creek School and Granite Falls High School. At Granite Falls, he played in the band under Bob Love – a previous Caldwell County Hall of Honor inductee.

After that, the military and music came together in his life.

He joined the N.C. National Guard at 17, then – after he graduated from high school in 1956 – joined the Army. He auditioned for the 101st Airborne Division Band as percussion and tuba player.

It just kept going from there. In 1959, Jaynes was assigned to the U.S. Naval School of Music in Washington, D.C. After that, he was promoted to bandleader and 1st sergeant of the 101st Airborne Division Band.

After two tours in Vietnam, he served as bandleader of the 82nd Airborne Division Band, then completed Warrant Officer Bandmaster Training in 1973 and was assigned as Bandmaster and Commanding Officer of the 5th Infantry Division Band.

After he retired, Jaynes served as director of music for Valley Forge Military Academy and College, during which time he was promoted to colonel.

Jaynes has performed for eight U.S. presidents – Eisenhower, Nixon, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Reagan, Ford and the first Bush – and Bob Hope.

But all his audiences mattered to him – especially the soldiers.

“Each time you play – for example, when we were in Vietnam playing for our troops over there – they want to hear patriotic songs: ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ ‘God Bless America,'" he said. "To play things like that and see a soldier or your audience enjoy what you’re doing, it makes it all worthwhile.”

Jaynes didn’t think, when he was a kid playing in his high school band, that music would shape his life the way it did.

“As a young boy, 16, 17 years old, you really don’t know what you want to do in life,” he said. “But going into the service will mature a boy pretty quickly.”

Jaynes didn’t really know he wanted to be a beekeeper, either.

But when he returned to North Carolina after 50 years away, he needed something to do. He started a garden, but the vegetables weren’t growing.

Thus, the bees – they’re pollinators. He figured out his plants weren't getting pollination.

Now Jaynes is president of the N.C. Beekeepers Association and a member of the Caldwell County and Wake County associations, as is his wife, Mary Alice.

The pair lives in Willow Spring, near Raleigh, to be close to their children, Alice Ann Merle and Tom Jaynes, and three grandchildren – two Appalachian State University juniors and a Garner High School freshman.

It was Jaynes’s aunt who nominated him for the Caldwell County Schools Hall of Honor. He told her he’d help her get the information together, but he didn’t hold his breath – the list of previous inductees was long and impressive.

Then he got the phone call that he would joined their ranks.

“It’s been quite an honor to be put into the category of those who have been selected for this,” Jaynes said. “I’m very proud of it.”