School songs composer dies
SPECIAL TO THE
FORT LAUDERDALE – Dr. Dwyron Keevin Gillard I, a band director and Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) graduate who is widely credited with composing the university’s signature fight song, “Let’s Go Wildcats,” died unexpectedly on Aug. 26 at the age of 49.
Born Nov. 7, 1967 in Miami, Gillard began his lifelong musical journey by watching and imitating his uncles as a child. They shared their love of music with him, and he learned to play several musical instruments.
After graduating from American Senior High School in Miami-Dade County, Gillard matriculated to Bethune-Cookman in Daytona Beach on a music scholarship. He was a member of the Marching Wildcats and while there composed “Let’s Go Wildcats.”
He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education from Bethune Cookman in 1991, and a doctorate degree in education from Nova Southeastern University earlier this year.
For years, various versions of “Let’s Go Wildcats” have been played by high school bands around the state, especially where graduates of Historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCUs) serve as band directors.
Longtime band director
Gillard began his teaching career with Volusia County Schools in 1993, serving as the director of bands and chorus at Campbell Middle School. During his 12 years of service at Campbell Middle, his students consistently earned “Superior” ratings in both band and chorus in music competitions.
He also composed Campbell Middle’s fight song, “Campbell Spartans Are Number One,” as well as the school songs for Bonner and Turie T. Small Elementary Schools and Atlantic High School, all in Volusia County.
In 2005, he left Campbell Middle and continued his musical journey as the director of bands at Mainland High School in Daytona Beach. While there, he challenged his students to achieve scholastically and musically. Under his tutelage, his music students also earned “Superior” ratings in solo and ensemble groups at the district and state levels.
Survivors include his wife, Frances, his children Dwyronyelle, Keevin II and Delayna; his mother, Sandra Hill Scott, and father Louis Gillard; his sister Shawn Kim and brother Gary; and a host of family and friends.
Homegoing on Saturday
A wake will be held at Hope Fellowship Church, Daytona Beach, on Sept. 1 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Funeral services will be held at Allen Chapel African Methodist Church, Daytona Beach, on Sept. 2 at 1 p.m.
In lieu of flowers and gifts, the family requests that donations be made in his name through the CashApp for iPhone or Android under the moniker $FGillard.
Click on flcourier.com to see B-CU’s Marching Wildcats perform “Let’s Go Wildcats.”