Hall of Fame 2013: Ed Devlin

“Ed grew up in the inner city streets of Boston and knows the value of having strong and confident adult figures involved in youth organizations. Ed stands as an notable example of the good that can be achieved through commitment, trust, and integrity: all qualities he instills in his students and members.” Blessed Sacrament staff member, Christopher Raichle

Ed Devlin began his career in the marching arts as a member of one of the best known and decorated CYO circuit youth bands in the Boston area, St. Williams Band of Dorchester, MA. During this time, Ed was continuing a tradition of excellence started by his father and uncles back in the 1960’s and into the 70’s when they were members of the group. When St. William’s disbanded in the early 1980s, Ed chose a different direction for his marching arts career by delving into many different aspects of the activities.

Ed began a longstanding local success designing drill with the King Philip HS music program in Wrentham, MA and has been with the organization for 25 years. Ed also became one of the youngest adjudicators in the area, receiving his judging ‘card’ as a member of the Massachusetts Judges Association at the age of 18. Ed judged local drum corps throughout the 1980’s into the early 1990s, and then also started to judge for Drum Corps International. He also started to develop his relationship with the Blessed Sacrament (Sac) organization.

Dolores Zappala, who was teaching the color guard at St. William’s back in the early 1980’s, met Ed when he was still a member.  Dolores was also on staff at Blessed Sacrament (Sac), so she asked Ed to join the staff to help out with the “M&M” (marching and maneuvering) caption. Ed officially joined the Blessed Sacrament staff in the 1984 season and has been with the organization ever since. Zappala says,“Ed dedicated himself to learning strong management skills to prepare for his future positions. Additionally, he continued to grow in the world of design/pageantry on a local circuit and national activity. One of Ed’s impressive strengths is dealing with the youth involved in the activity, whether it is high school color guard, independent color guard, percussion, drum corps, or bands.”

Ed found that he wished to put more focus on visual design rather than judging, and as his experience at Blessed Sacrament accumulated, he took on several roles — from originally being a member of the ‘marching staff’ to staging season programs for the Sac guards, including the World Guard as well as becoming the Director of the organization in 1994 which also allowed Ed to become a member of the WGI Board of Directors where he has been ever since. “To most who meet or know Ed personally, he comes across as the long-time, business-like director for Blessed Sacrament (and of course current President of WGI) and these characteristics are certainly true about him. But in my knowing Ed for these many years, he is so much more than ‘all business,’” says wife, Karen Devlin.

Through his long-term tenure at Blessed Sacrament and on the WGI Board, Ed has been witness to the vast positive changes that have come to WGI. While Ed has been a key part of WGI’s evolvement and continues to be committed to it from the excellence, competitive, artistic and business aspects, he is personally driven to make these changes for the benefit of the performers experience. His mission started out as a love for the marching arts, and while business is now a part of his responsibility, he continues his roles because he considers his staff, members, and peers more as family than anything else. 

“During the 6 years I marched with Blessed Sacrament I became very close friends with Ed. Over the years Ed became not only a friend of mine, but a mentor. Many know Ed as the Director of Blessed Sacrament or the President of WGI; I know Ed for his caring, loving, and genuine personality. Ed may be the business figure for Blessed Sacrament, but he treats the organization and the members as his family.” Blessed Sacrament member, Sarah Zello

Beside his obvious success with the indoor activities, Ed has had great success with the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps starting in the early 2000’s and then returning to the organization in 2011, helping them return to DCI Top 12 status in 2012.  In 2010, Ed was recognized for his contributions to music education (Drum Corps, Band, Color Guard, Indoor Percussion and Judging) by being inducted into the Massachusetts Drum Corps and Music Educators Hall of Fame.

While it’s easy to focus on all of Ed’s marching arts accomplishments, he is also an avid Boston sports fan.  He lives in Wakefield, MA, literally just a few houses down from where Blessed Sacrament rehearses each week, with his wife, Karen and their two cats.

Ed, along with Fred Feeney and Dale Powers, will join 49 distinguished fellow honorees and will be inducted in a ceremony to take place Wednesday, April 10, just prior to the start of the 2013 Color Guard World Championships in Dayton, Ohio. Check back with WGI.org often for feature stories on Feeney and Powers.