September 17, 2010 – Less than 24 hours earlier, George Parks, renowned Band Director for the University of Massachusetts Minuteman Marching Band and Professor of Music died of a heart attack. His death came suddenly, while traveling to Michigan to a performance, the activity that had filled the majority of his life.
The members of the marching band have decided not cancel the Saturday performance at the University of Michigan. This decision is not an act of callous disregard for the death of their director, but rather the decision was made to respect Park’s lifelong dedication to music and to the Minuteman. And, it is not just current students that are affected by his sudden death. The death of George Parks has touched hundreds of other former students, fellow staff, and friends.
Despite having died less than 24 hours before, there is already a Facebook memorial page for George Parks. As of 2:36PM EST, over 1000 people are fans of the page and almost 100 posts have been placed on the wall. As might be expected, the majority of posts are from current students and former students of Parks, but some come from very unlikely people.
“Our city received such a wonderful treat watching George Parks and his band.”
This comment comes from Deborah C. Patterson, a local resident of Ohio who posted that she was fortunate enough to watch the final performance of George Parks at Cuyahoga Falls High School.
TJKelly, a Massachusetts resident and graduate of University of Massachusetts had few words of his own, but posted a link to a video tribute that another alumnus has created within the last 24 hours.
In fact, in just the time it took to write this article, the page has gained almost 50 more fans and at least a dozen new posts. The constant growth of this memorial says a lot about a man who wasn’t an international pop star or movie star. Despite comparatively moderate fame, he clearly touched hundreds if not thousands of lives.
This is a loss that is already being felt by many. In the words of Bev Graves Strakose:
“George Parks was UMASS.”