Former student establishes fund in honor of music teacher

April 22, 2014
Bob Parker addresses his sixth grade music class.

Bob Parker addresses his sixth grade music class.

By Kate Krieger. MCP Correspondent.

LUDINGTON – Inspiration runs deep in some people and former Ludington resident, Will Dunn is no exception to this concept. Dunn, 31, a 2001 graduate from Ludington High School, was an active member in the LHS band under the direction of Bob Parker and Parker taught him a lot more than just music theory and performance.

Bob Parker directing the middle school choir.

Bob Parker directing the middle school choir.

“I think Parker’s name means something in this community, which I attribute to the sheer positivity he exudes,” Dunn said. “Anyone lucky enough to have been in contact with the Ludington High School band in the last two decades, even tangentially, knows precisely what I’m talking about.”

After a lot of thought and research, Dunn decided to do something a little more concrete to honor the man who had inspired him so much and established the Bob Parker Music Enrichment Fund.

“The BPMEF is a collection of investments, the returns from which will be used to provide some musically-based enriching resources for the Ludington community,” he said. “This fund exists as an indirect result of the teaching efforts of Mr. Bob Parker. His impact as a music educator at Ludington High School goes far beyond the classroom walls and into the community.”

It is the goal of the fund to use Parker as a model to inspire enriching activities in the Ludington area through music. Dunn discussed the fund’s mission and its ability to achieve three principal ideals. He hopes it will use resources to facilitate experiences, which will enrich the Ludington area and its members, to honor the work of Parker and to support music-based initiatives in the area.

“This fund wishes to support the idea which Mr. Parker has come to represent: music is a tool of enrichment on a personal and community level,” Dunn said. “Music can change the performer and the listener, and creates a positive bond that can tie all community members together. In this framework the community as a whole and its individual members are each enriched.”

Along with Dunn and Parker himself, a panel of people has been collaborated to serve as advisors over the fund.

“Once I told him the intent of the fund, he was immediately ready to participate,” Dunn said. “It is absolutely awesome that he has given us permission to use his name and more importantly that he has decided to serve on the advisory panel, which will decide how the funds can best serve the community.”

Parker discussed that he had been very influenced by some of his own teachers growing up and hoped that his legacy would be inspiring to some of the students he had taught as well.

“I had great teachers growing up,” Parker said. “With all the people who helped me and wanting to be like them, hopefully I gave some of my students some motivation to feel the way I feel about learning. I am going to retire soon and I really didn’t know any of this was coming. I’m just so happy.”

Dunn’s mother, Sarah, a teacher at Ludington High School also serves on the panel and is thrilled to be able to help makes decisions that can assist a large number of area people through the love of music.

“As someone who has known Bob Parker for many years, I can say I am honored and very excited to be a part of the Bob Parker Music Enrichment Fund,” she said. “I have seen first-hand how his love of music has enriched the lives of many of his students. His positive outlook and enthusiasm spills over to those around him and you can’t help but want to be a part of that culture. It seems only fitting that we continue to enhance our community though music in honor of the man who has given so much of himself towards that cause.”

The people of the Ludington area will also be a crucial part to the building of the fund.

“It is cycle of synergy,” Dunn stated. “The more support the community gives the fund, the more support the fund can give the community. The more one supports, the other the better both will become.”

Many other Ludington residents have been affected by Parker’s teaching and outgoing personality. Steve Winczewski, 35, graduated LHS in 1997 and was very involved in the school’s music programs. He was driven by Parker’s love for music and teaching.

“Parker came to Ludington with such a passion and a great attitude that his love of music was infectious,” he said. “He influenced me to become a better musician, teacher, leader, and human being. He was someone I respected right away, and he got me to strive for my best in all areas of my life, not just music.”

Josh Thomas, 31, and a 2001 graduate from LHS was also inspired by Parker.

“There is no questioning the passion and energy that Mr. Parker has brought to the Music scene in Ludington,” Thomas said. “There is no doubt that his enthusiasm has rubbed off on each and every one of his students and Ludington is a better place because of that.”

A 1996 LHS graduate and former band member, Michelle Hemmer, 36, also has very fond memories of Parker and how he engaged students through his love of music.

“Bob Parker was able to influence us students so well because of his excitement,” Hemmer said. “He brought it everyday and it just rubbed off. He had excitement for music, excitement for his job and he even showed it constantly for his family and his new home of Ludington. He was excited even when stressed. And who wouldn’t be stressed while trying to corral at least 50 teenagers all holding noisemakers?”

The fund is housed and managed through the Community Foundation For Mason County and all contributions are tax deductible.

“There is no donation amount too small, and the return is not measured in dollars,” Dunn said. “The return is in building a stronger and more enriched community through positivity and music.”

Checks can be made out to Community Fund for Mason County, Box 10, Ludington, MI 49431, with Bob Parker Fund in the memo line. Contributions can also be made online at https://www.cffmc.org/give/online-giving, by selecting “Memo” in the “Foundation” drop down box and choosing the “Bob Parker Music Enrichment Fund.”

Dunn can be contacted by email at [email protected] with any further questions about the fund.

“Mr. Parker will not teach forever, and it will be sad when he decides to retire,” Dunn said. “It would be a double loss if we don’t continue spreading the message of enrichment through music and community togetherness that he has championed so effectively. This fund means to pick up where he leaves off, and do its best to keep this message alive in the community.”

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