John Allen

John Allen

The community lost a true inspiration on April 24, 2003, and those of us that had the privilege to know John W. Allen want to share with others what became our deep respect and admiration for a man that epitomizes what we know as the Baldwin Pops Band spirit.

John Allen Wright was born on June 22, 1922 in Cleveland, Ohio. He and his wife Agnes were married on May 22, 1971 and in true Power Squadron fashion arrived in Fairhope by boat in 1983. There is a good chance that if you have a boating license for Baldwin County, John may have been your instructor.

At the young age of 74, John expressed interest in learning to play the tuba and was motivated to investigate how he might learn such a skill. He found out traditionally most tuba players started learning their instrument in middle school band. So John called the Fairhope Middle School Band Director, Betty Godwin, and asked if there was an opening in the sixth grade beginner band!

Betty welcomed him, and after 5 years Chris Rowe also welcomed him, and John not only became a student of the Tuba, he became and inspiration to his fellow students. They were able to see, first hand, the enjoyment of pursuing your interests and dreams through application of initiation, dedication and commitment. John’s presence was proof positive that the brotherhood of musicianship can provide a great source of joy for the rest of their lives.

Being a good student, John practiced religiously with both middle school bands and at home. As a matter of fact, John’s neighbors in the “fruit and nut” section of Fairhope say his booming bass line “became a constant sound on their street” and they will no doubt continue to listen for it riding in on the sea breeze.

Pops Band members quickly discovered John was a popular member of the middle school band by the cheerful crowd of kids that always sought him out before a performance at the joint Pops and Middle School Honors Band Concert. As a musician, John always wanted to learn more, and still participated in his 8th Grade band daily.

John also formed a brass ensemble that performed at the Pops Band Solo and Ensemble Recitals. On several occasions Joe Riemer used John as a role model for illustrating determination, dedication and inspiration for those expressing interest in joining the Pops Band but were nervous they hadn’t played for so long. Joe would always smile and point over to the low brass section and say ” Hey, John started playing Tuba at age 74, and he has never played before…you should be able to play again too!”

He will be missed greatly by many, but we hope to keep his name alive in Baldwin Pops Band through a memorial scholarship. Through an audition process, and outstanding high school seniors will be chosen for demonstrating the spirit and outstanding qualities exemplified by John W. Allen. In recent years the scholarship has expanded to provide funding for Summer Music Camps as well as college scholarships.

If you would like to make a contribution to this scholarship find, you can donate through our website or mail to P.O.Box 38 Fairhope, Alabama 36533. The Baldwin Pops Band is a non-profit organization; all contributions are tax deductible.