Raise your hand as high as you can. Now raise it two inches higher… THAT IS WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOUR LIFE!
-George N. Parks
The marching world lost a legend, no other way to put it.
George Parks was (among other things) the director of the UMass marching band, easily one of the finest and most beloved marching programs in the country. I knew George from my time working as a SWAG at the Bands of America Summer Symposium. He ran the drum major academy. It was far more than just training them the technique of directing. He was teaching them to be leaders, to be confident, to be something better. Better than they originally thought they could be.
Traveling across the country, the UMass band stopped in Ohio for a performance. That night, he spoke of having some discomfort and was taken to the hospital. It was there that he passed away from a heart attack. I can’t even imagine what the members of the band are going through.
I didn’t know him nearly as well as other people did, but I know that he loved his work, he loved his students, and he loved his music. In turn, there were friends and students who loved him just as intensely and fiercely. I half jokingly said that there were countless people who would have gladly followed him off a cliff at a perfect 8 to 5 with their eyes high with pride.
All I can think is what an absolute loss this is and (somewhat selfishly) how incredibly unfair it is. To say that he will be missed is a gross understatement.
Thanks for everything you did, George. We’ll miss you.