Time flies

Hey, Dad.

It's hard to believe, but it's been a year since you left us. A lot has happened in the last 365 days – and no, Trump has not yet seen a day of jail time (because I know you'd be asking since you can't watch MSNBC wherever your body/soul/whatever goes when you die).

I never got to give a eulogy for your passing. Part of it was that I knew I couldn't get through it. The other part was that there just wasn't enough time to honor your life and legacy. That's tough to do for someone as accomplished as you!

I finally had my chance at a SIUE Concert with your former percussion studio students on Friday, 5 January 2024 — 3 days before the one year anniversary of your passing. I had to prepare some notes to make sure I could stay focused. Here’s a transcript of what I had to say:

On behalf of the Bolen, Stookey, and Bangert families who are here today, I’d like to say thank you for coming out to share your stories and talent in tribute to my dad, your colleague, instructor, and all of our friend, Jerry.

My dad and I had a very uncomplicated relationship across multiple dimensions - but none more important than teacher-student. Not just as a student learning to how play an instrument, how to keep up with music theory and analysis, or how to be a professional, but how to be a kind person, how to be a loving husband and father, and how to give of yourself to others.

There are a lot of moments that we remember of Jerry here at Dunham Hall. I remember spending a lot of time in this room in rehearsals for Wind Symphony, University Orchestra, Percussion and World Music ensembles. But there are plenty of moments away from this building where my dad really was his best self. Here is one.

A lot of you know that he was the principal percussionist at The Muny Opera for 46 long, hot summer seasons. What you may not know is that, behind the scenes, he was a Union negotiator for the Musicians Association of St. Louis with the American Federation of Musicians tasked with negotiating a fair contract on behalf of the rest of the orchestra. At this point, I was done with my music education here at SIUE and had moved into the world of business and management.

We had a lot of conversations about negotiation and business, finance, and accounting, and after a while, I had realized that he flipped our roles: I was now the teacher and he was the student.

It felt odd at first to know that the fate of the Muny Orchestra and their contract was being negotiated almost by proxy. But eventually fairness and equity won the day because of Jerry’s approach: being respectful, kind, and earnest. I’m not sure if I had anything to do with that outcome, but I’ll claim the victory on his behalf.

As I close, again, I would like to thank you all for coming out to share this evening with us. I know that my dad would be very impressed with all of you.

I love you and miss you.

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