George Parks demonstrating Power and Class.
UPDATE: Monday morning So unless you have been living in a cave somewhere you probably know the Umass Marching Band put on a hell of a performance in Michigan before the largest live crowd in their entire history. The football team also came close to pulling off a Cinderella win as well.
My ultra reliable source at the State House indicates the Chancellor can order the flags on campus to half staff on the day of George Parks memorial service as can the Town Manager or Select Board order the municipal flags to half staff on town property as well.
A fitting tribute to a most deserving individual.
Even though he was immersed in something macho martial arts guys might mistakenly think a tad wimpy, I remember the first time I met George Parks at my karate studio about 15 years ago when he signed up his two children and would often come watch me teach their lessons.
I could tell instantly he was a dedicated father. But when I soon thereafter witnessed him perform as Umass marching band leader, I was even more impressed with his physical ability to control and coordinate a massive wave of college kids with loud instruments like a perfectly trained border collie herding sheep.
A few years later I called him up, not knowing if he would even remember me, to ask a favor. Without hesitation he volunteered to perform with whatever band members he could muster.
Since the first band practice did not happen until mid-month, acquiring a decent ensemble on 9/11 was not easy. But he reported that morning to the Amherst town common--the first anniversary--with about a dozen kids, and they played like it was Carnegie Hall.
The last time I talked to George was almost exactly a year ago at the UMass groundbreaking ceremony for the George Parks Marching Band building. I asked him is he could muster a few kids on 9/11/11 for the tenth anniversary ceremony and he instantly responded, "Of course!"
But now he's gone. I'm sure tomorrow--because of the discipline he instilled--the Umass marching band that was his life will play their hearts out in the Michigan Big House.
And I'll bet, somewhere, George N. Parks will be smiling.
Yes, slightly unreporter like of me to yell, "Looking good Boss!" as he passed. He of course noticed me standing dead center in the middle of the road to get the shot and although he never broke his rigid disciplined march or even moved his head, just as he passed he gave me a wink.
The Springfield Republican, sadly, reports
Sent: Sat, Sep 18, 2010 9:14 am
Subject: Flags to half staff request
State House Events
Bureau of State Office Buildings
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?