A Life Lived Fully and with Influence

Picture from my 1985 ARHS Yearbook

Through Facebook network, I learned of the untimely death of my High School Band / Music Director, Dennis Wrenn at the age of 58. He collapsed this past Friday, while on a High School Jazz Band trip in Greece. Even though I graduated almost 25 years ago, he was still leading the school's numerous Bands, the Orchestra and influencing the musical hearts of the students he interacted with.
Over 1200 people have joined the Facebook Tribute group that was set up hours after the news of his death was released. A testament to the vast influence this one man had over his students and the musical community he helped nurture and build.

What did I learn from Mr. Wrenn (he'll always be "Mr. Wrenn" to me, not "Dennis", as I am certain he would insist upon)?
  • I learned to broaden my musical horizons - through his connections, I was given opportunities to play in Pit Orchestras outside High School.
  • I learned an appreciation for Jazz, which I continue to love today.
  • I learned to step out and audition, even if I don't think I'm good enough, because in most cases, you really are good enough.
  • I learned to have fun with my music.
In his death, I've learned to embrace what you love, and to love what you do, because life is too short to not do what you love.

Mr. Wrenn, rest in peace. I know you are out there making beautiful music.

ARHS Orchestra, 1985. Mr. Wren is in the 2nd row, far right. I love that he chose to sit in the all of the musical groups' pictures - not all teachers did that.

Some links to the media coverage around Dennis Wrenn's death:
Metro West

Sherry  – (February 23, 2009 at 7:07 PM)  

Aww, Shirley. Sorry to hear about this sad news. What a wonderful tribute to have so many students care about him like that. I am sure he was an amazing person.

Jayne  – (February 23, 2009 at 8:37 PM)  

Sounds like he was a great man! Sorry about your sad news!

Traci  – (February 23, 2009 at 10:21 PM)  

Wow, that's pretty young. Sorry about this, although I'm glad to hear that he was able to touch so many lives..

McKay Family  – (February 24, 2009 at 8:50 PM)  

So sorry about your sad news...it is hard to lose someone when they had such an impact on our lives. BTW - now we know what you looked like in high school.

Nadya 's World!!!  – (February 24, 2009 at 9:25 PM)  

I'm so sorry about the sad news. Sounds like he was a fantastic teacher that touched so many people!

jody –   – (February 25, 2009 at 7:36 AM)  

What a tragedy for his family and especially for those students who were travelling with him, I cannot imagine the rest of that trip.
It sounds like he was a wonderful teacher and mentor- I had a teacher like that in high school who also died too young.

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