By Michael Reed
2015 WGI Hall of Fame inductee Paul Lampkin has been judging winter guard shows longer than the members spinning in today’s guards have been alive. In his 30+ years of service, he has been a Judge, including Chief Judge, served on the Judge Task Force, including Caption Chairperson in the General Effect Caption, and was Task Force Coordinator for a three year stint.
Lampkin’s involvement in the pageantry arts began when he was just a boy. “I actually started marching when I was 11 years old, as a drummer, in the local fire company drum corps. I became Corps Director and taught marching when I was 18. I left the corps when I was 25 and marched briefly in a senior corps. At that time I was also teaching color guards and marching bands in Western New York,” he remembered.
He became involved with WGI as a Judge during the 1980 season, and is entering his 36th season of adjudication with the organization. “I was Assistant Chief Judge in the late 1980’s and became Chief Judge in 1991, a post I held for three years. After that I continued to judge for a couple of years then Fred Feeney asked if I would become General Effect Caption Head, a post I held for eight years.”
Each of us have people who have helped us along life’s journey in special ways. Lampkin mentioned several important individuals who have influenced him during his WGI tenure. “I have always considered George Oliviero to be my mentor. Lynn Lindstrom and Shirlee Whitcomb were such a big part of my early years in the activity. From an instructor perspective Vinnie Monacelli, Jay Murphy, Dolores Zappala, Sal Salas, Mickey Kelly, and Jeff Namian taught me so much about the activity and how to always push and respond to the creativity aspects needed to keep the activity fresh and growing. As the years progressed Fred Feeney continued to be a positive influence and a great friend.”
The respect that Lampkin feels for these influential people is mutual. Dolores Zappala, Artistic Director of Blessed Sacrament, says of Lampkin: “Paul exemplifies the values of WGI. He is an inspiration to the new and inexperienced instructor and judge. He is an excellent mentor for new judges.”
Fred Feeney notes that “He has always been available and has always been a tireless ambassador for WGI as an organization and its philosophical goals. There is no one in the judging ranks who is more deserving of this honor or who has continuously served WGI for so many years. Throughout his long history of service, he has made significant contributions and has been the model of professionalism.”
Lampkin’s never-ending quest to be the best adjudicator possible is a much-admired trait that instructors, designers, and his colleagues in the judging community have recognized. Veteran judge Curtis Costanza says of Lampkin, “I’m always amazed at his insight and self-reflection, constantly questioning his decisions and seeking the reasons behind others’ decisions. He listens, and is constantly learning and evolving,” while Zappala adds “He continues to educate himself so that he can stay on top of his game and appreciate the artistry that is presented to him.”
When asked what has been the most rewarding aspect of his WGI years, Lampkin brought it back to the people out on the tarp. “The most rewarding aspect for me is still having the best seat in the house to see a lot of great kids perform! It has truly become a labor of love!”
Away from the activity, he cherishes time with his family and has a plethora of outdoor activities to stay busy. “In my free time I enjoy being with my best friend, my wife Jeanine. I also spend as much time as possible with my sons Eric and Sean who have both been volunteers at the World Championships. I also have a grandson, Able, who is 16 months old and is the apple of my eye. My wife and I also have show dogs. We also enjoy camping, kayaking and mountain biking and I am a fervent golfer.” If he is as proficient on the golf course as he is at judging, suffice to say the Senior PGA Tour had better keep an eye out!
Paul, along with Charlie Gumbert and JC Connor, will join 55 distinguished fellow honorees and will be inducted in a ceremony to take place Wednesday, April 15, just prior to the start of the 2015 Color Guard World Championships in Dayton, Ohio. Check back with WGI.org for a feature story on Connor, and read more about Gumbert here.