Last dance in West Point

scott and garyA

Gary Florreich, our beloved “flo-mop” (we called him that as children because we couldn’t pronounce Florreich) departed the world yesterday, and it was way too soon.  The entire West Point High School Class of ‘65 will be grieving for a long, long time. ( Above from left Scott Murrah and Gary perform at one of our many class reunions.)

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Every time I hear “In the Midnight Hour” or “Louie, Louie,” l hear his voice. Or when I see a plate of crawfish and Dixie beer, I’ll see his face.  He was Mardi Gras and St.Pat, to the core. In our last conversation Sunday night, he was inviting our gang to come to new Orleans in February to go with him to the Eagles concert.  We would have done it too.

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Gary was the only guy from our class who was inducted into our honorary society known publically as the “Marganitas.”  (Don’t ask, it’s a long story.)  Photo above is of our last board meeting which included Beth’s mother Miss Wilma who was like a mother to Gary too.

I cannot fathom life without Gary who was our friend and confidant as long as I can remember.  He was one of those guys with an  infectious laugh who brightened the room when he arrived.  He was the glue that helped keep our rag tag band of classmates always in touch.  He was the lead singer in the band that played for all our reunions and special events. You could always pick him out of a crowd by his big black hat

An attorney by profession he spent most of his professional life lobbying the Louisiana legislature in Baton Rouge.  When he retired some 15 years ago, he opened a specialty advertising company.

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But music was his passion and he was happiest while performing – darn good at it too.

Our thoughts are with Gary’s wife, Rebecca who is going to need a lot support in the months ahead. He wrote me last summer after what we had begun calling the “next to the  last concert of the Torquays.”

“Rebecca is always amazed and appreciative of how close so many of us in our class have remained for all these years. And the posting of our departed classmates helps us keep their memories alive as well.” How ironic.(Above he is pictured with Judy Murphy Staggers during a open air concert at the Sally Winters Park.)

I guess the last dance on Oct 27, 2012 really was the last one and we’ll keep his memory alive a long as there are at least two of us still alive and kicking.   Linda Murrah, another of our tight little group, died in 1999.  In my mind I can see that pair “up there” together again…Gary in his hat and Linda in her majorette outfit, performing in perfect harmony.

I’m just so glad the fates put us all together a lifetime ago when we thought we would be forever young and in our hearts we were – at least when we were together.

gary at hazels

So long Gaar-ee’, the Cajun pronunciation of his name.  We will see you again at that big dance beyond the sky.

23 thoughts on “Last dance in West Point

  1. Wonderful tribute, Emily! Gary was such a great guy and will truly be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with Rebecca and the family.

  2. Thanks, Emily! We all have some special memories of Gary. We’re going to miss his calls to catch up on what’s going on. He was proud to be distinguished as the only male member of “The Marganitas.”

    Our thoughts and prayers are with Rebecca, Stephani, Dennis, Jeff, Beverly and Susan. He was one of a kind!

  3. A beautiful tribute, Emily. So sorry for the loss of your friend. I have always enjoyed his singing with the Torquays and had such a good time when they played at the chili cook off last year….in fact, that was the last time I danced. Our class (59) has a crowd much like yours (just a little older)…..and we feel the same way as you when we get together. All of a sudden we’re young again. It’s so hard to lose our childhood friends and I’m sending you all good thoughts.

  4. I dd not know Gary except as a small child but he will live in my memory because of your tribute. He lived around the corner and his dad was at ur he’s many times. Have maher shared flowers with me.

  5. I can still see him playing his accordion. His family were the only Lutherans that I knew of in WP. Didn’t really know much about what that religion was back then. Little did I know I’d join and raise my children in a Lutheran church in Austin.

    He reminded me recently that he had mowed our lawn on Grove street. I didn’t know we really had a lawn… If you remember our old house you’d know what I mean.

  6. Carole, I had completely forgotten his accordion. And of course he played his horn in the marching band. You may not know this but Gar-ee’, the Cajun, was quite a song writer (he could compose lyrics extemporaniously and set to a melody in his head.). He often wrote about New Orleans which he loved almost as much as West Point.

  7. What a wonderful tribute Emily!! I treasure getting to chat with Gary at the
    October 27, 2012 mini reunion!! Loosing friends your age really makes you think of your own mortality. Growing up in WP was really a special time, even though we probably did not think so at the time. It is wonderful that so many classmates have stayed there or moved back after retirement. Coming home for me is always such a treat, running into fellow classmates and of course the class reunions, which we both have 50th coming up which will be sad because of all the special classmates that were taking too soon ;-( My prayers and deepest sympathy to Gary’s family.

  8. Gary was a great guy. I am glad to have known him all these years. He will surely be missed by all. Our orayer go out to all the family and our class mates.

  9. Had a call from Gary last Sunday. It’s still on my phone at the office. Started with the standard “Heeeeeey.” Wanted to tell me about the Eagles concert. I was about to leave to go out of town – was going to call him “when I had a minute.” Then I got the text—Wish I had “had a minute” to speak with him one last time. Maybe a lesson learned for all of us —

  10. I will forever regret not coming to the class reunion at Teen Town…two years ago? Time is flying! I heard such great things about it from Sherry (Jeffcoat ).
    I actually ran into Gary and his wife on a cruise ship a couple of years ago…they said that they were regular cruisers. It was fun seeing him and connecting after so many many years. I am so sad to hear of his death. My condolences to his family and his many close friends.

  11. So sorry to hear about Gary’s passing. I knew him at MSU during the late ’60s when we were in a rock band together called “T Tommy and the Tyrants” with Tom Johnston, Tommy Latino, and a few others. Gary had a lot of musical talent. It was a great time with great memories. We kept in touch off and on through the years and it was always good to talk to him. We used to go canoeing and fishing together. I haven’t heard from in three or four years. Wish I could have seen or spoken to him once more. I remember his mom and dad Russel, brothers Dennis and Jeff and two sisters; a really fine family. Gone too soon, my friend. Rest in Peace.

    Rick Wittmann

  12. Emily, what a beautiful tribute you did for my brother Gary! I know all of you loved him so much as he was the life of the party. From reading all the post, I was very fortunate to have spent last week with him and Rebecca when they came up to visit for a Saints game Sunday, then into the Eagles concert Monday night. We (as we typically did at the piano) sang “One of these nights” – “I can’t tell you why” and even through in “Dr My Eyes” because of Jackson Browns connection with the Eagles at 5:15 mon evening before we went. *Pre-Warm-Up*…I ask all of you to get the dvd “The History Of The Eagles” and watch this in memory of my brother as that would mean the world. There’s a story I’ll share about that someday alone. There’s so much to say and also plan to speak and see most of you hopefully. Finalizing arrangements this morning with something very special in the Abita Springs area around the middle of next week to the latter part of…. I will let all of you know. JF

  13. Emily, thank you so much for writing this lovely tribute to my big brother. He is missed.

  14. Beautifully said!!!! I feel so fortunate to have spent time with him last week when he and Rebecca came to visit to go see the Eagles with Jeff and I. What a sweet, sweet Man.
    He and Jeff talked MANY times EVERY WEEK!!!! I will miss seeing “Gary Florreich” show up on the tv caller ID and I know Its going to be for Jeff!
    He will be missed by so MANY people, what an awesome legacy to leave, that says a lot about the kind of person he was!!!!

    Praying for the family!

    Kathy Williams

  15. Bittersweet and well said Emily. I don’t know you but know you and the other marganitas were a nice support for my big brother….

  16. Thank you so much Emily — that was wonderful — and all the comments so special — he was the most special person I have ever known and he has the best friends in all the world. You are all so wonderful. In tears as I write this — so many special memories. Thank you all. Rebecca

  17. Rebecca, you and all Gary’s siblings have been in our minds and in our hearts all week. I will see you all on Thursday and we can share many other stories about that remarkable man. As Kathy remarked, it was always a pleasure to see “Gary” on the caller ID. Seems the three of us could talk for hours. We’ll get through his together. Hang on Becca. We’re coming…

  18. Please note that funeral services will be conducted at 2:00 PM on Thursday, December 05, 2013 at E. J. Fielding Funeral Home, 2260 West 21st Avenue Covington, LA 70433. Visitation on Thursday, December 05, 2013 from 12:00 PM until service time. Interment in Pinecrest Memorial Gardens.

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