A Morristown native who has served more than 20 years with “The President’s Own” Marine Band will be retiring from the U.S. Marine Corps in September and honored later this year in the Hall of Fame at Morristown-Hamblen High School East.
Master Gunnery Sgt. Jane Cross, chief librarian, will retire on Sept. 30 with 22 years of service in the Marine Corps and additional time serving with the 572nd Air National Guard Band, based at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard base, prior to that.
Cross said her pending retirement is a bittersweet experience.
“I never thought that kid who sat in the high school band room during lunch break sorting the music would wind up doing that, and so much more, as a wonderful career for one of the nation’s best musical organizations,” she said. “We were riding the bus back from performing for the Congressional Picnic at the White House last month when it occurred to me that it was my last time ‘on the band bus.’”
Cross graduated from East High School in 1993. She began studying the clarinet at age 9 and later her band director at Meadowview Middle School encouraged her to study privately with Randy Misamore.
East High School Band Director Jim Davis encouraged her interest in studying the music library and performing on saxophone with the jazz ensemble at Walters State Community College, she said.
Pat Bivens, the current band director at Carson-Newman University, recruited her to play with the McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Band.
She left the National Guard and went onto earn a bachelor’s degree in English and music from the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga in 1997.
She then joined the Marine Corps to serve on The President’s Own Band.
“Without all of these excellent teachers, mentors and opportunities, I might not have gone on to study music with the GI Bill and scholarships,” Cross said.
The President’s Own United States Marine Band was established in 1798 and is America’s oldest continuously active professional music organization. Its mission is unique – to provide music for the President of the United States and Commandant of the Marine Corps.
Cross joined the band in May 1997. In 2003, she earned a master’s degree in library science from the University of Maryland in College Park.
She was appointed chief librarian in September 2008 and support staff section commander in 2013.
As chief librarian, her job is to prepare music for performances, edit program notes and assist with maintaining the music library and historic archives of the Marine Band.
Cross said she has good memories of growing up in Morristown.
“Morristown was a wonderful place to grow up, and it’s such a beautiful area,” she said. “I miss the lakes and the mountains. One of my favorite things about coming home for a visit is running into people I know and getting a chance to catch up, and the warmth and friendliness of the people I don’t know. No one is a stranger.”
Her parents, Linda and Roger Feltman, and W.C. and Joani Wilson still live in Morristown, along with an aunt, uncle and several cousins, she said.
She tries to get back as often as she can to see family.
She lives with her husband, Nathan, in Arlington, Virginia and said she already has a job lined up once she retires.
Cross will become an archivist and music specialist for the Library of Congress.
She now looks back on a storied career that saw her play for five presidents and, most recently, at the funeral for late President George H.W. Bush.
“I absolutely loved working with such a talented and motivated staff and supporting such incredibly talented musicians,” Cross said. “Stepping onto the platform at the U.S. Capitol for each of the five inaugurations I was librarian was always exciting, setting out the music on the stands while trying not to stare at the hundreds of thousands of people all along the National Mall.”