When high school band instructor Leroy Darling brought his family to Manteca in 1953, the Manteca High School music department was small. In just a couple of years, the band and choir changed from very few in numbers to 70-1O0 in each class. New courses were added as music classes became more and more popular. Music concerts which were once sparsely attended became so popular that the same concert had to be performed on up to three different evenings to accommodate all who wanted to attend. Mr. Darling soon became known in Manteca as "Mr. Music Man."
In the 29 years he spent in this community, over 80 awards and trophies were won by his hands for musical superiority, field competition, and street marching. In 1955, he was named Manteca’s "Man of the Year." In 1957, Mr. Darling founded the California Band Directors Association and was its first president. Four years later, his band became the first from Manteca High School to march in the Rose Bowl Parade.
Besides the tremendous amount of time spent in teaching, Mr. Darling and his wife, Frances, raised six children. The music building at Manteca High School was named Addie Hall after his oldest daughter’s tragic death.
He, indeed, impacted hundreds of lives as he not only taught music, but also emphasized discipline and morals. Many of his students in later life credited him as one of the greatest influences in their lives.
Leroy Darling retired in 1982 after 37 years in education. Upon his death in 1984, the Manteca City Council dedicated a day in his memory.