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Reflections of The Boss, by Joe Donahey - Jan. 21, 2001

posted Jul 21, 2012, 7:28 AM by Largo Gold   [ updated Jul 22, 2012, 6:26 AM ]
“THE BOSS” January 21, 2001

Dear Mary Lou, Bob, Donna, Karen, Bill, Bobby, Thomas, Chris and Jason, as well as all members of the extended Band Of Gold family:

When first the impact of the loss of a loved one hits us, the reaction is the feeling of overwhelming loss and seemingly never ending deep and overwhelming sadness. We are emersed in this feeling of loss and emptiness, a hollow feeling that it seems initially will never be filled. Then, as time goes on, our emotions begin to settle and our mind begins to function again. The hollowness begins to be filled with wonderful warm, exciting, funny, joyful, satisfying and fulfilling memories. The sadness turns into thankfulness accompanied with smiles and laughter. God, how we wish he could have remained with us longer, but how thankful we are for all the time we had. He contributed so much to the lives of all of us who had the privilege of knowing him, working with him, sharing with him, each of us in our own way in whatever our personal relationship was. Each of our memories and thoughts will be different; this wide variety is testimony to the richness and fullness of a life that meant so much to so many.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to weave a quilt of the thoughts and memories of all whose lives he not only touched, but also influenced in such significant and everlasting ways? Our thoughts and memories are all different because we all knew and related to him in our own individual ways.

Most of you don’t know that I first saw Bob Cotter was in August, 1945 on a field of competition in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, ah, but that’s another story for another time... I remember the first time I saw the “Cotter”version of the Band of Gold at the Orange Bowl in Miami, I believe it was 1972. How many of you were there? I had not seen the Largo High School Band in several years. What a wonderful surprise it was to see this magnificent group from a high school that I graduated from twenty years before! That too, is another story. Later on that year I responded to an invitation to stop by the Band Room and exchange pleasantries with the man I would come to know as the Boss along with all the rest of you. He asked me if I had a little time to be of some assistance, and as the saying goes, the rest is history.

It was then that I began to witness first hand the real genius of Bob Cotter. He loved music, he loved marching and performing, but more than that he loved the kids that became his responsibility to train. Train and teach not to be musicians, not to be performers, but rather the lessons of self-discipline, the satisfaction of setting what appeared to be unreachable goals and then setting out with uncomprising determination to attain that goal, what ever it might be. He loved the challenge of leaving - with as many of these young people as possible - the well-engrained lesson that they could attain virtually any goal they set for themselves in life, so long as they had the single-minded conviction and focus required to attain it. He wanted them to know that they were limited only by their own imagination. The wonderful part of the lesson was that you could apply this formula to whatever you chose: being an exceptional parent, a successful business or professional person, a leader and constructive contributor to your church, your community in whatever area you selected for yourself. The beautiful part of the story is the legacy he has left. It begins, of course, with his wife Mary Lou, his children, grandchildren and then flows over to all of those who went through the program, and now their children, and yes in some cases even to their children. The stories filter back, sometimes by personal contact, sometimes by word of mouth and now through the web site. The praise is abundant and lavished upon the experiences, the lessons learned, the impact upon lives and goals and accomplishments, and most importantly upon their children. I can tell you I have not heard one word that could be considered to be excessive, and I can tell you that Bob received great satisfaction from learning of the successes and realizing that oh so many of you learned the lessons.

The Boss’ gift to you was what you took away from the Band of Gold experience, your gift to him was the way you have lived and will live your lives. The more you share with and pass along to your children and others, the greater the gift, and believe me, I have no doubt that he will know.

I could share with you this flood of memories that are filling my mind and hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to do that one day, but for the time being I will leave you each with your memories with the hope that all of you will have the opportunity to share yours with the rest of us. What a wonderful quilt of memories that would be.

To all of you, he would want to say“thank you”. Thank you for being a part of his life, thank you for your love and devotion, thank you for the opportunity to be a part of your lives, and thank you for being you. I know the Boss would want to say those things to you because he said them to me just a few months ago.

To Mary Lou, Bob, Karen and all the grand children: God be with you in this most difficult time, and may He fill your emptiness with all the love and wonderful memories that will slowly begin to fill the void. It will never be completely filled but hopefully they will lessen the sting. Each of you deserves our thanks. You should know that we all know that all he gave to each of us could and would not have been possible without your contribution, support and sacrifice. For this we will all be eternally grateful.

To all the rest: find some other Band members if there are some near by, or as an alternative just find some friends and share some Boss/ BOG stories. And when they tire, have them stand and join hands with you and sing the alma mater to them, even if they don’t know it and when you’re finished, sing the Lord’s Prayer. You don’t even have to tell them why if you don’t want to. After the tears are wiped away, you will feel better and you’ll notice a brightness in the sky that I suspect will be the reflection of a great big smile topped by dark rimmed glasses.

May God bless each and every one of you and hold you in the palm of His hand in this difficult time.

Joe “Old Yellow Pad” Donahey This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it