Gary Langford’s trumpet communicated grief for a fallen friend Saturday.
His soulful rendition of “Amazing Grace,” delivered inside the United Church of Gainesville’s chapel, was fitting considering who he was mourning: longtime band director Gerald Dean Poe, who died Feb. 6 in Trenton, Florida.
He was 74, and the father of Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe.
After a tenure at UF as an assistant band director, the senior Poe continued spreading music throughout Alachua County, serving as the band director at Hawthorne Middle/High School in 1986 before working at Kanapaha Middle School until 2004.
Joined inside the chapel by about 100 others singing along to his tribute, Langford said he will miss eating lunch every Monday with his friend of 20 years.
Senior Minister Shelley Wilson led the service. She picked two of Poe’s favorite hymns to share with the congregation, “Be Still My Soul” and “Be Now My Vision.”
After the service, friends and family met in Reimer Hall, which is in the church, and looked through memorabilia of Poe’s life and career.
Poe is survived by his two sons, the mayor and Russell Poe.
Lauren Poe said he was proud to have called Poe his father.
“He gave fully of himself until he had no more to give,” he said.
Poe grew up in Montrose, Colorado, with two sisters in a two-room house.
Lauren Poe said his father’s parents, Chester and Esther, were hard-working and taught their children the values Poe would later instill in his sons.
“He must have been made from unadulterated love,” Lauren Poe said.
Poe graduated with a music degree from Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado, where he met his wife. He worked at the University of Portland as a band director before he working at the University of Oregon. He then moved to Florida to be an assistant band director at UF.
He met lifelong friends at UF and discovered a love for fishing on Florida shores, Lauren Poe said. He even bought a fishing shack on the Gulf Coast, where he spent most of his time.
Langford said he watched Poe teach and it was inspiring.
“He taught his students not just about music but also about life,” he said.
During his retirement, Poe directed the Gainesville Community Band, traveled and handcrafted gifts for his two granddaughters.
Gainesville Commissioner Helen Warren works with Poe’s son and knew the kind of impact Poe had on the community for more than 40 years.
“He brought people together with music,” she said.
Contact Meryl Kornfield at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter at @MerylKornfield
Gerald Dean Poe