Cover photo for Claude Collins Hedspeth's Obituary
Claude Collins Hedspeth Profile Photo

Claude Collins Hedspeth

CW4 Claude Collins Hedspeth, 87, of Stafford was a loving son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, leader, musician, friend and so much more. He was born on June 4, 1933 in Tucumcari, NM, the second son of four to Ruby Ray Hedspeth and Tonita Esther Herrera Hedspeth. The family moved to Amarillo, TX soon after where he grew up and graduated from Amarillo High School. Claude had a passion for music. He began playing piano at a very early age and had his first of many bands in High School, the Sandy Swingsters. He followed that passion at Texas Tech University as a music major and then in the Army Band. Claude was initially drafted into the Army in 1955 and served two years in Japan with the 56 th Army Band before returning to Texas Tech to finish his degree. He reenlisted in 1960 and served in five army bands. He was appointed as a Chief Warrant Officer
bandmaster in 1968. The early days of his Army Band career were spent in Ft. Sill, OK, Ft. Hood, TX, Ft. Sam Houston, TX and Fairbanks, Alaska as well as overseas in Japan and Camp Casey, Korea where he was responsible for the entire division troop support while located in a tactical zone. While commander of the 5th Army Band in Ft. Sam Houston, he was personally responsible for the musical coordination and direction for the State funerals of former presidents Harry S. Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson. His final post was at The United States Army Band (TUSAB) Pershing’s Own at Ft. Myer in Arlington, VA where he was appointed director of The Army Blues jazz band. During his time with TUSAB he performed for many foreign dignitaries, US officials and marched in the inauguration parades for presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Regan. As conductor of the Army Blues he performed before audiences of millions across the United States as well as on many television shows and with many famous personalities like Mike Douglas, Bob Hope, Wayne Newton, and Eddie Fisher to name a few. During his service in the Army he was awarded the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Army Service Ribbon and two Overseas Service Ribbons. He was well respected and remembered as a fair and honest leader. When Claude was not conducting the Army Band, you could find him on stage somewhere around the Washington DC metro area performing with his own band or solo on the piano. His band was a regular attraction at the Ft Myers Officers Club in the Lamplighter Lounge for many years, three of those with Cheryl, his daughter, as the singer. He retired from the Army Band in 1986 after 30 years of service.

Claude spent his retirement years playing the piano in the local area at high-end restaurants, Nursing Homes, and many social events. He was a judge for several years for the Independence Day Parades in Fairfax, VA. Claude had a knack for entertaining a crowd with his amazing talent, great sense of humor and Sinatra-like vocals. He brought joy to everyone who heard him play and was a crowd favorite well into his mid-80s. He never stopped playing the piano, even if it was only in his own home during the last year.

Claude married Jeanneane Cailloux on August 19, 1953 while in college in Lubbock, TX. Their life together was spent raising their three children at many Army bases around the world, travelling, spending time with family and friends and at performances. Concerts and shows were a daily part of their lives. Claude married Kim Reid on September 3, 1998 at Ft. Myer where they met at the Officer’s Club. They loved spending their time with family and friends, fishing and going out to dinner. They travelled often to visit family in Mississippi, Texas, Arizona as well as two trips to Vietnam. A favorite trip of theirs was to New Mexico with Grandma Toni and Virgil to see where Claude was born. They were happiest just being together and with family.

Claude is survived by his wife, Kim Reid; his three children, Claude C Hedspeth, Jr. (Crystal) of Katy, TX, Carl G. Hedspeth (Lee) of Manassas, VA and Cheryl D. Van Doren (Paul) of Sterling, VA; his three step-children, Kim Stephens (Franklin) of Woodbridge, VA, Danny Reid (Nikki) of Canton, MS and Angela Carter of Biloxi, MS; fourteen grandchildren, Destinee Daye (Fito), Houston Hunter (Taylor), Jazz Cailloux, Hailey Houk, Kyle Blake (Kaylin), Kelly Lauren (Tommy), Michelle Denise (Justin), Jessica Nicole, Crystle Vanessa (Brian), Felicia Amanda (Andrew), Andrew Nguyen, Madison Paige, Cadence Brooke and Elecia Nicole; nine great-grandchildren, Oliver, Kimberly, Alannaha, Hector Dean, Logan, Beau, Virginia, Amelia and Cameron; former spouse, Jeanneane Bowers (Charles); and two brothers, John Hedspeth (Nyla) and Harold Hedspeth (Annette).

Claude passed from complications resulting from COVID-19 on January 15, 2021. We will always remember his great sense of humor and his amazing talent, and will miss his wonderful stories. A family viewing will be held at Cunningham Turch Funeral Home in Old Town Alexandria, VA on January 27, 2021. A celebration of life funeral service will be held at a later date when he will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. He is now onto his next performance.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Claude Collins Hedspeth, please visit our flower store.


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