NEWPORT, VT - “Now heaven has a new leader of the band,” is what the family of Richard “Dick” Croudis said in an e-mail sent to the Newport Rotary Club Monday.
Croudis, the former band director at the Newport City High School and North Country Union High School, passed away Saturday morning. He was 94.
Croudis, a veteran of World War II, was highly involved in the Northeastern Rotary Music Festival for 30 years. That festival is held every March at North Country Union High School.
“He was an integral part of making the festival what it is today,” said Bill Gardyne, director of the Northeastern Rotary Music Festival. “He did a lot of great things in his lifetime.”
Even after his retirement from teaching music, Croudis gave individual music lessons at Newport City Elementary School. According to Gardyne, Croudis gave those lessons well into his 80s.
Reading from an e-mail from the family, Gardyne said, “Dick was always very upbeat, and right up to the very end he was very upbeat.”
Croudis was a very important part of Rotary, Gardyne said. He was such a vital part, the Newport Rotary Club created the Croudis Music Scholarship. Gardyne estimated that over the years more than $100,000 has been given out.
“He taught thousand of kids over the years,” said Gardyne. “For a lot of them, he left a lasting impression. He was a true gentlemen and one of the finest men I have ever known in my lifetime.”
During his time in Rotary, Croudis served as president and music festival chair.
The community loved Croudis so much that it it put on a performance dedicated to him: Second Summer Productions Presents A Tribute to Mr. Richard “Dick” Croudis ~ His Music. It featured many music pieces, some written by Croudis.
Local residents, many of whom were Croudis’ former students, came together for one last time. It also featured the Newport Concert Band and a tribute chorus.
“He was a man of music,” said Tim Daley of Second Summer Productions. “I was happy to be able to give him that tribute.”
“The community was fortunate to have him here for such a long time,” said Daley. “He was a wonderful man.”
Daley said Croudis never waved his talents in front of others.
Newport Rotary President Doug Spates called Croudis an “incredible man, incredible musician and great friend.”
“He was Mr. Music with the Newport Rotary Club,” said Spates. “He was instrumental in everything we did and still do as it relates to music. He was such a gentleman and will be extremely missed by the Rotary Club.”
According to the e-mail, Croudis will be buried with his wife, Lillian, and his brothers in Yarmouth, Maine. A memorial service for the Newport area is being planned for Sat., Nov. 19, at the United Church of Newport.