Local legend has died

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Jerry Cumberland died over the weekend. Jerry was a compassionate man with a passion for music and teaching and just mentioning his name conjures up wonderful stories from all who knew him.


Jerry was my neighbor, so perhaps my memories are a little different than most, though just as wonderful.

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He and Lauren were living next door when we moved into our current home and right away he showed what a wonderful neighbor he was.


Our son loved to play video games. I didn’t think much of them, so we didn’t have a great many. But Jerry did, and he was kind enough to lend them to Will Patrick.


Our daughter was in her freshman year in high school and “bored.” One reason for Katie’s boredom was that she played the bass guitar and she and two friends in Jackson had planned on having an all-girls rock band. Then we moved to Picayune.


Over her freshman year, she talked to Jerry and during her sophomore year played the bass guitar on the sidelines as part of the band, during the halftime shows at the football games. She went on to become part of the Pride of the Tide, the dance team, which, as band director, Jerry also had a part in directing.


Besides his wife and daughter and extended family, Jerry had two great loves in his life – music and his students. Of the two, I think he loved his students more.


There are two bits of proof that come to mind. First was something that made me angry the first time I saw it. His students had rolled his yard with toilet paper. I wanted to go catch the miscreants. Jerry laughed and said it was just a sign of the love his students had for him. Second was that when he retired from the Picayune school system, he soon became bored. As a musician, there were many avenues open to him to continue pursuing that love but Jerry chose to go back to directing a high school band, this time in the Pearl River County school system.


Jerry influenced thousands of students and will be greatly missed by them and by his family – and by us as a truly wonderful neighbor.