I miss him every day.
Gary Langford '62's fate was sealed when, as a teenager, he was invited to join Pennsylvania's all-state high-school band. The director was Allen W. "Flockie" Flock, Bucknell professor of music from 1950 to 1985.
Langford's life in tiny Susquehanna, Pa., revolved around music. His father was the town undertaker, a distributor of bottled gas and owner of a furniture store. His mother, a graduate of Oberlin Conservatory of Music, taught high-school music. Langford studied piano but mostly he loved the trumpet, which seemed the shiniest, jazziest and coolest of instruments.
Flock directed Beaverbrook Music Camp, in the Poconos. He invited Langford to attend and urged him to apply to Bucknell. Once at the University, Langford buckled down, washing dishes in the sweaty environs of the women's dining hall, playing intramural soccer and basketball, drilling with ROTC, singing in the choir, performing in ensembles and arranging marching band scores. He earned a B.S. in music education.
Then he landed a place in the U.S. Air Force Band but chose an officer's path instead, serving at home and in Vietnam. He earned a master's at the University of North Texas and, in 1971, a dream job: assistant director of bands and professor of trumpet at the University of Florida.
Over the next decade, Langford returned to Bucknell each fall to arrange, teach and choreograph four Bison Band football halftime shows. In Gainesville, Langford taught and directed concert, marching and jazz bands for 38 years, piling up acclaim, including UF Teacher of the Year three times, Florida Bandmasters' Roll of Distinction Hall of Fame and College Music Educator of the Year. Naming him a "Jazz Hero," the Jazz Journalists Association called him "activist, advocate, altruist, aider, and abettor of jazz."
Langford retired in 2007 but continues teaching, conducting, adjudicating and performing in his popular bands, EOS Big Band and The Jazz Project. Four hundred of his marching band arrangements are used by high schools and colleges across the U.S.
His dear friend Flock, who "opened the doors of music for me," died in 2006. "I miss him every day," Langford says.