You were, You are, UMass, George Parks.

It’s not often that one your heroes passes away.  It’s even rarer that you spent so much time over 4 years with your hero, and then all of the sudden  they are gone.  That’s exactly how I feel at this moment.  Last night my girlfriend called me from the marching band trip where they were staying in Ohio.  She was crying, and I was concerned she had a sinus infection again.  And then she said those words I would never expect.

All of the sudden, I started getting texts and phone calls from other in the band too.  And I could feel my heart breaking, I could not understand why this had happened.  I had been having terrible dreams all week, surely this was one of them.

A few band alums in the area came over to my place and we talked, and everyone was in shock.  And we started talking, we needed to do something fitting.  “Let’s drive to the school now!”…”Maybe we can just go to Michigan!”  And then we all realized what we had to do.  We needed to ring the Old Chapel bell for George N. Parks .

So we head to the police station…where else can you find someone at that hour who could let you in?   Especially to a condemned building!   And they initially thought we were making it up, I guess because the officers were in so much shock too.  I’ll start to leave some of the details out starting now.  We got into old chapel and went to ring the bell.  We sang my way (it’s linked away) and rang the bell.  I will never look at the UMPD the same way again, they were completely awesome and genuine people.  They loved George Parks as much as we did.  We took a short tour around, looking at some history.  And then we left some of our own, along with some that was already there.

So we went back to my place and talked.  And eventually went to sleep, if that’s really possible.  Waking up every 20 minutes or so, sleeping for maybe 2 hours?

And we went to campus today to get some lunch…and we drove by the Fine Arts Center.  Why aren’t the flags at half mast?  This is absured.  We end of meeting with Jo-Ann Vanin, the Dean of Student, who tells us only Deval Patrick can authorize that.  So we try to get in touch with his office.  We ended up heading over to the music department office and speaking with both Chris Thornley and Dr. Cox.  They were amazing to talk to and very supportive.

We ended up being interview on WWLP news at 5.  I can’t find a clip of it yet, but maybe it will be available soon.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that during his entire life, George Parks burned very brightly.  He was such an influence on so many people; he changed so many lives.  I feel sorry for those who did not get the chance to know him.  And I know that tomorrow he will be sitting there with Revelli, arguing who’s band is better.

Chin up.  Eyes with pride always.


  1. Very nice move to ring those bells! The person to email at the State House to get the flags down is Suzzette Waters, as she is in charge of reminding official folks state wide when to lower the flags at the Governor’s orders and obviously has his ear on such issues.

    —–Original Message—–
    From: [email protected]
    To: [email protected]
    Sent: Sat, Sep 18, 2010 9:14 am
    Subject: Flags to half staff request

    Suzzette Waters
    State House Events
    Bureau of State Office Buildings

    Hey Suzzette,

    If ever a Massachusetts state employee deserved the flag to fly at half staff to mourn his stunningly sudden loss, it would be George N. Parks. And I know first hand what a believer he was in our country, its values and that he strove to instill that in countless thousands of students over the past thirty years–mainly by example.

    He played for Presidents and football fans and kids at Christmas. He will always be remembered in our hearts

    Could you mention this simple request to the Big Boss?


    Larry K

  2. My ultra reliable local sources confirm Umass will have a remembrance ceremony for GNP on October 16–Homecoming Day–at the Mullins Center.

    If the Chancellor does not order the Umass flags to half staff (and my ultra reliable source at the State House confirms that he CAN do it) I would suggest some intrepid young men take the matter into their own hands…


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Christine Gillette and UMass Band Alumni, Jason DeFuria. Jason DeFuria said: You were, You are, UMass, George Parks. […]