MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When the Golden Gophers take the field Thursday evening, they’ll be greeted by the University of Minnesota marching band belting out the rouser.
But it will also signal a sad reminder to all band members, who know that a popular student leader won’t be among them.
Twenty-one-year-old senior Robert Brau of Willmar was killed recently when he was riding his motorcycle home to see his parents. He was hit head-on by a distracted driver who crossed the center line.
Now, his 320 member band family is playing this season in his honor.
Band director Tim Diem said the tragedy is hitting the students hard, but is also pulling his band family together.
“They’re getting through, it’s difficult, but they’re really helping each other,” he said.
Claire Volna, a senior mellophone player, said she got the call from Diem about Brau’s death.
“That was the worst phone call I ever received,” she said.
She said Brau was her rock and a true leader in the marching band, adding that he should be leading the mellophone section.
So when the band takes to the field on Thursday, each member will wear Brau’s initials on their shoulders.
And for the freshmen who didn’t know Brau, Paul Benson will see to it that they do.
“I want to remember Robert in a positive and fun way,” he said.
He will do that by sharing stories of the talented young man who loved life to the fullest and enjoyed the sheer thrill of a good performance.
The university’s school of music has set up a scholarship in Brau’s memory.
For more information on Brau’s memorial service and scholarship, click here.