Fundraiser for Jerry’s scholarship is Friday

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I think he would honored and humbled that these ‘young people’ are interested in remembering him (the late Picayune Memorial High School band director Jerry Cumberland),” said his widow, retired English teacher Lauren Cumberland in an interview recently.

The PMHS class of 1989 is holding its reunion this weekend and as part of the reunion, the classmates, especially those involved in the band, Pride of Tide dance team and flag corps are using the festivities to establish a scholarship in the name of the late, beloved band director.

The reunion begins Friday night, June 20, with an event called “Cruising the Varde” on Goodyear Boulevard, which will begin during the day and last until midnight. T-shirts and food will be sold at Jack Read Park. Cars will be able to cruise and park along the boulevard until midnight as they did until the city passed an ordinance in 1989 banning the decades-long social gathering of high school students along Goodyear Boulevard. A mild reprieve of the ordinance has been granted for this scholarship fundraising effort. Classic Cruisers are especially invited, the event’s sponsors said.

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“It’s very humbling to me that they want to remember him this way. … He would be honored and pleased they were using a scholarship,” Cumberland continued.

Jerry Cumberland not only took students into his band that were interested, he recruited members into the band, sometimes to give them a direction in life and reason to stay in school, his wife remembered.

She laughed and said that he also was famous for taking in students who played instruments not traditionally viewed as band instruments and finding a way to incorporate them into halftime festivities.

He’s one of those people who never would have thought he deserved to be remembered in this way, Lauren Cumberland said.

“We’re not about money, or we wouldn’t be teachers,” she said.

Cumberland explained that it was a “great blessing” for her and Jerry to see what their students did with their lives.

She, and their daughter, Mallory, are really happy that the scholarship involves music.

Jamie McRaney, a member of the class of 1989 and a leader in the scholarship effort, said the recipient will have to show a passion for music, have at least a 2.0 grade average and provide letters of recommendation as well as audition in person before a committee to be named. He said the group plans to raise enough money over the next few years to endow the scholarship so that it will continue on into the future.

The goal is for the scholarship to be able to provide $1,000 a semester over four years.

McRaney said donations for the scholarship can be made by check or credit or debit card to fund at the Greater Pinebelt Community Foundation. Checks can be mailed to Greater Pinebelt Community Foundation, memo C/O Jerry Cumberland Scholarship Fund, 107 Hardy St., Suite 208, Hattiesburg, MS 39401, or by card by going to Click on the “donate” link, enter card information to send funds to GPCF via PayPal, include memo C/O Jerry Cumberland Scholarship Fund. All donations are tax deductible.

Inquiries can be directed to Nick Barrack to 601-799-7996 or Jamie McRaney at 504-408-8896.