A native of Lenoir, Captain James C. Harper graduated from Lenoir City Schools in 1911, earned a bachelor’s degree from Davidson College and MA in Economics from UNC Chapel Hill.
Returning to Lenoir in the early 1920’s, Captain Harper conducted the American Legion Band and began the Lenoir High School Band, devoting 34 years to students. In 1965, Davidson College awarded Captain Harper an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities.Harper joined the US Army during WWI and received the rank of Captain.
Captain Harper was the first high school band director to be elected President of the American Band Master Association and later became an Honorary Life President, an honor he shared with John Phillip Sousa.Captain Harper also served as trustee and Clerk of Session of the First Presbyterian Church of Lenoir and on the committees that founded Caldwell Memorial Hospital and Caldwell Community College. In 1958, the Lenoir City School Board named the Lenoir High School Band Building the James C. Harper Band Building and named Captain Harper, Director-Emeritus. Captain Harper’s legacy continues across the nation and world as his commitment to students and community remains an outstanding model of lifelong devotion and services.