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72-Year-Old FSU Alum Hopes To Become Oldest Marching Chief This Fall

Graham Shaw
Slayton Shaw

A 72-year-old FSU alumnus is hoping to return to campus this fall as the oldest-ever member of the school’s marching band. The Marching Chiefs hopeful from the Panama City area is getting help from current band members as he prepares for the August audition.

Graham Shaw has taught himself cymbals in preparation for the Marching Chiefs audition. After his brother posted a video of him online this week, he says a current Chiefs percussionist offered to give him a lesson. And other band members have offered to help too.

"I’ve had one of the trumpet players reach out to me and wanted to help me with the marching technique because the Marching Chiefs do a different type of step than other bands," Shaw says. 

Shaw says he’s heard the weeklong audition is grueling, but he says he’s in perfect health.

"I’m a master gardener, so I work outside a lot, and in the hot sun," he says, "and  even use a push mower in mowing my lawn, so I don’t take the easy route.”

Fifty years after he originally attended FSU, Shaw and his wife have enrolled in classes for the fall and are looking for a place to stay in Tallahassee—all with the goal of making the band.

Shaw says, in the 1960s, he and his undergrad roommate dreamed of marching with the Chiefs. After that friend died of cancer in 2000, Shaw says he wants to join the band in his honor. And he hopes any fame he gains by becoming the oldest Marching Chief can be used to raise cancer research money.