Memorial set for former GHS music teacher
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 16, 2011 1:46 PM
George Trautwein cruised into town in his cream Jaguar in the late 1950s, taking a teaching job at Goldsboro High School to help pay for his new car, and wound up being a beloved music teacher to some "pony-tailed, loafered teenagers" who had formerly never sung anything but camp songs.
That's how Barbara Ann Vinson of Goldsboro remembers the man who walked into her seventh-grade class at Goldsboro Junior High, where Trautwein also taught classes back in the day.
"George Trautwein was the greatest of teachers," she says now. "He did not 'dumb down' anything for us. He wasn't teaching to any end-of-grade tests. He didn't ascribe to the No Child Left Behind theory. He believed every child could excel.
"He set the best, hardest music in the world in front of us and expected us to perform it. He believed that we could do it. And we did. Only later did we realize that his stomping, roaring and hurling of chairs was self-parody, but it worked."
Trautwein became a fixture in the community from 1956 through 1969, also teaching classes at William Street School, conducting several choirs and directing "Amahl and the Night Visitors" each Christmas at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church.
During the summers for 25 years, until 1973, he served as music director of "The Lost Colony" outdoor drama in Manteo.
When he left Goldsboro High School, he became music director at Wayne Community College for three years. His career then took him to New York, where he taught at Hastings-on-Hudson for a year.
Two months ago, he died in Tarrytown, N.Y., just weeks shy of his 81st birthday.
Immediately, Facebook and other posts went up eulogizing his memory as former students, friends and colleagues paid tribute online.
Locally, those who knew him wanted to do more.
While Trautwein had returned to the area at least twice in recent years -- in 2002 for a "Tribute to Trautwein" gala hosted by the WCC Foundation, and in 2006, when he was presented with a star on the WCC Walk of Fame -- those who knew and loved him felt an encore was in order, at least in theory.
A memorial service will be held at the college on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. in Moffatt Auditorium.
"We know there's lots of people that George touched and we have this information up on Facebook, it will be e-mailed to different classes," said Jack Kannan, executive director of the Foundation and one of Trautwein's former students. "This is sort of put together because the people in Wayne County felt like we needed to have a service for George."
The service will be an opportunity to celebrate the life of a teacher who made an indelible impression on so many lives through his classroom, Kannan said.
It will feature several of Trautwein's former students, including Jean Bradel, an opera singer from Pennsylvania, singing, "You'll Never Walk Alone."
Dan Wise of Wise Chevrolet will give the welcome, and Martha Bryan will read a tribute written by some of Trautwein's former students.
Bill Stone, another of his prized pupils who went on to become a successful opera singer, now living in Cary, will perform the "23rd Psalm."
David Weil will read a poem, Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken."
Scheduled speakers include former student Steve Baddour, who will also play piano, George Whitfield, football coach and former co-worker, and Michael Penta, Trautwein's partner from New York.
Sally Spring, an accomplished musician, will sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
"We'll also have a video of George from his 2002 visit to Goldsboro," Kannan said.
And there will be a musical trip down memory lane, he added.
"Two songs everybody that had George in mixed chorus at Goldsboro High School will know them -- 'Break Forth, O Beauteous Heav'nly Light,' for those who sang with George, the last time of conducting mixed chorus was in 2002 when we had a tribute to him in Goldsboro, those who participated can stand and sing along with the video," Kannan said. "And the last thing he always ended his program with in mixed chorus performances was 'The Lord Bless You and Keep You.'"
There will also be an opportunity for others to share memories and stories, when the service adjourns for a luncheon in the college courtyard. Kannan said there will be an "open mike" for those in attendance to speak.
For more information on the event, contact Kannan at 739-7006.