Payson Band remembers longtime ‘conductor’ with tribute concert

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On Aug 27, the Payson City Band paid tribute to one of their own in a special concert belt at Memorial Park.

Kyle Gay, who became a fixture at the Sunday Concerts at the Park as a featured conductor, passed away on Aug 23 at the age of 59.

Gay had Down Syndrome, and learned early on that he had a love of music. According to band committee member and announcer Kenton Phillips, Gay began his relationship with the band oddly enough while in his Latter-day Saint ward.

“Kyle was in the same LDS ward as a member of the band who was actually the, the director at the time, Roger Holt,”  Phillips recalled. “Kyle was leading the music in priesthood, and Roger Holt said, ‘Well, gosh, if he can do that, let’s have him announce or let’s have him lead a number in the band.’ So we started in the mid- late-eighties doing that. Kylee would patiently wait his turn and he go and conduct a song or two.”

Phillips explained that as the years went on, Gay became a fixture in the band.

“Roger started having Kyle conduct every week …  “When Wayne Huff took over in 2001, we started getting band shirts, and he said that we should get Kyle a band shirt. Kyle would wear the band shirt proudly every week, and we got him one and every time we would get new shirts and he was just so excited to have one.”

Not only was the band invested in Gay, but he was every bit invested in the band. Phillips explained that Gay walked five blocks to the concert every week, and even donated money from his own paycheck from his job washing and folding laundry to the band.

His dedication to the band was outlined in his obituary with a story that his family holds dear.

“Band concerts were his favorite, and he had a front row seat every week,” the obituary stated. … “Grandpa Morden’s viewing was on Sunday night, and (Kyle) still insisted he needed to go to the band concert. … “We are so grateful to all those that have him this wonderful privilege.”

Gay did everything he could to attend the band concerts, but unfortunately, health concerns took a toll in 2020, and Phillips said that it made it difficult for him to do what he loved.

“In 2000, when COVID hit, he had some health concerns and he wasn’t able to come back,” Phillips said.

The concert at Memorial Park on Aug. 27 was a way to bring Gay back if just for a moment, and Phillips said that it was a special night.

“It was a great concert and really well attended,” he said.

As the concert closed, those who knew Gay, no doubt felt his presence and imagined his larger than life smiles and bows and wave of baton.

Arianne Brown
Arianne Brown
Arianne Brown is a mom of nine who writes columns for many local and national publications. She currently resides in Payson, and enjoys looking for good happenings in her area and sharing them for others to read about. For more of her stories, search "A Mother's Write" on Facebook.

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