BEAUMONT, Texas — The tributes keep coming for a legendary local band director who blazed a trail through music and broke down barriers.
Gerald Stewart died a week ago in Houston. He was 84 years old.
Stewart's musical talents stretched beyond the classroom of students.
His brother Cecil Brent said his talents reached those in the community.
Stewart was a man of many talents.
“He was the saxophone, flute, piano, organ. To tell you the truth, he could play any of them,” Brent said.
He dedicated most of his life to two things: His band and his students.
“And he one thing about him, he was precise about what he did when even teaching students,” Brent said.
Brent is Stewart's youngest brother. He said his brother died last Friday morning due to health-related issues.
Now, he's remembering his brother as a well-rounded musician.
“I remember many nights he would come home and he would sit up all night and play John Coltrane,” Brent said.
Stewart got his start in music in Silsbee.
He landed his first job at the Liberty Training Center where he taught band.
Eventually, he went on to become the band director at the Charlton-Pollard High School in Beaumont.
“He took the first black high school band that we know then to Europe and play with the queen,” Brent said.
Former students of Stewart took it to Facebook to share the impact Stewart made on their lives.
“When Charlton-Pollard closed, he had a vision. He said 'I want my own band.' And that's what he did he got the recruitment of guys.” Brent said.
And that's when Starship Band was born. Brent said he was the band's stage and road manager.
“Starship was Texas known. We did a Texas tour. We traveled to Oklahoma and Louisiana,” Brent said.
Although Brent and Stewart bonded on the road and through shows, brotherhood is the bond he said he'll miss the most.
“I'll miss him. I'll miss him,” Brent said.
After leaving Beaumont, Stewart became the band director at M. B. Smiley High School in Houston until he retired.
Funeral services for Stewart will be held Saturday, April 30, 2022, at 10 a.m. at the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church.
A viewing will be held from noon to 5 p.m. on Friday at the Mercy Funeral Home.