On January 21, the Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps lost one of its most iconic people, Dr. Daniel Richardson. The corps and alumni are still reeling from his passing.
An original member of the inaugural 1956 corps, Dr. Dan was an important part of the corps throughout its history. For decades, he was the face of the Phantom Regiment. He always had a smile on his face and something positive to say. In 2011, he was elected to the Drum Corps International Hall of Fame, a well deserved honor.
After the news of his death, many fellow alumni relayed their stories of their Dr. Dan moments along with pictures they took with him. As a marching member, I only had a few encounters with him and, sadly, I never took a picture with him. Thought there would be more time for that. My loss.
My Dr. Dan moment came, not as a marching member, but many years after aging out. It was in 2008, their championship season. Current marching members had sought out alumni from the 1981 and 1982 Spartacus shows. A trumpet player, Katie, found me shortly before the season started. I was living in Georgia at the time and in late July, the corps was staying at MacEachern High School in Powder Springs. They were about to compete at the DCI South Regional Championships. I took the opportunity to meet her in person. Even got to watch a run-through.
After the run-through, I got to meet a few more members. While walking down the track by the field, Dr. Dan passed by. I told him hello and he said, "I remember you. Good to see you again." It made my day.
It doesn't matter if he really remembered me or not. It matters that he made it a point to say he did. He didn't have to do that. We exchanged hellos a couple more times at the Phantom Regiment reunions at the Show of Shows a few years ago, but that was it. The moment I cherish the most is our performance in the Phantom Regiment 60th Anniversary Alumni Corps in 2016. Alumni from all generations performed and I had the privilege of taking the field with him. Though we were nowhere near each other on the field, it was still a thrill to be out there with him.
I learned an important lesson after my big brother died. Remember the good times. It's easy to pine over mistakes and regret actions never taken, but I won't do that. Dr. Dan represented the best of what the Phantom Regiment was about. He made a difference with all of us and we are forever grateful for everything he has done for us and for the drum and bugle corps activity. That's what I'll remember.
Rest in peace, Dr. Dan. SUTA!!!!