Gregory J. Wrinn, Sr., who taught music to generations of Ludlow students and together with his wife Shirley, enriched the lives of countless others, died peacefully in Wilbraham MA on November 14. He was 81.
Born and raised in Meriden, CT, (son of the late Owen Eugene and Elizabeth Extelina Trixie MarcAurele Jubenville Wrinn) he learned to appreciate music from an early age from his father, a blind piano and organ player who directed the local church choir and accompanied silent movies in theaters. He was a 1945 graduate of Meriden High School.
After splitting time in his formative years between playing baseball in the same Connecticut factory league as Jimmy Piersall and managing his own band “Trumpet and his Band,” Wrinn enlisted in the U.S. Army at the end of WWII and served in Italy, touring with the USO Band and playing the trumpet for various ceremonies and events for the troops stationed in the region.
After leaving the service, he studied music at Shenandoah Conservatory where he would later meet his wife of 55 years, the late Shirley Kunkel of Norton VA. After graduation, he taught music in Lynchburg, VA before moving to Ludlow in 1957. He studied piano at the Eastman Conservatory in Rochester NY and later earned a Masters Degree at Westfield State College.
Wrinn was an institution in Ludlow, guiding the schools’ choral and musical curriculum for 34 years. He was known for his dry wit and his insistence on quality performances by listening, blending, and singing in tune. He taught music history and music theory and brought an appreciation for quality music from all centuries to students that ranged from 16th century madrigals to contemporary pieces that described the horrors of war.
He conducted several concerts annually, and produced musicals such as Brigadoon, Carousel, South Pacific, Oklahoma, Bye Bye Birdie, Sound of Music, and Hello Dolly, in addition to countless Senior Shows and special programs.
Many of Wrinn’s students were awarded positions in Massachusetts Music Educator’s District Choral Festivals, All-State Conferences, and All-Eastern United States Honors Choruses. He also assisted with various productions put on by Ludlow residents both serious and whimsical. He once turned down a lucrative offer to lead the Brookline, MA music department in order to stay with the people and town he loved.
He was a member of the Mass. Music Educators Association and sang with the Springfield Symphony Chorus. He received the Man of the Year Award from the Ludlow Grange in 1989.
His students were forever loyal to him throughout their lives and later as Ludlow residents, would show up to pack Selectmen’s meetings whenever budget cuts threatened his department. Presenting music education as a serious subject that reflected universal truths guiding students throughout their lives was always his goal.
His retirement in 1991 was marked by several governmental proclamations, a note from Senator Ted Kennedy, and a parade down Center St. led by Miss Ludlow and the Saloio family band. He spent his later years conducting an occasional alumni concert and teaching piano for students ranging in age from seven to 70.
He is survived by his son Joe and his wife Julie of Lynn, MA, and his son Bill and his wife Linda, of Gloucester, MA; four grandchildren, Corey, Myles, Jamison and Velia Wrinn; two sisters, Rose McCarver and Evelyn Bampton, both of Wallingford, CT; and several nieces and nephews. Wrinn was the brother of the late Owen E. Wrinn, Edith Rudolph, Virginia Drescher, and Gertrude Lindsay. He was also grandfather of the late Catherine B. Byrne Wrinn.
Independently Owned and Operated Kapinos-Mazur Funeral Home and Cremation with Confidence by Kapinos-Mazur “Care for the Community Since 1932”
Funeral services celebrating his life will be Saturday, November 21 with family and friends asked to gather at 10:45 AM for a prelude at St. Mary of the Assumption Church East St. Ludlow. A Liturgy of Christian Burial will be offered by Fr, John Connor at 11 AM Internment with his wife will be at a later date at the Island Pond Cemetery.