The Quincy community lost a great man today in Ben Bumbry.

At 86 years young, Bumbry was one of Quincy’s most celebrated citizens having spent more than six decades in the Gem City as a leader, educator, councilman, and one of the region’s most cherished and hardworking musicians (predominately as the drummer and face of the iconic Ben Bumbry and the Messengers for more than 50 years).

While I’d seen him a few times at gigs around town or strolling the halls of the music building over at Quincy University, I didn’t officially meet Ben until 2013 when I was assigned to write an article about him for a QU alumni publication. He was a little standoffish at first (I’m sure my nervousness didn’t help matters any), but he opened up.

We knocked out the basics pretty quickly—certainly enough for my little assignment (our good friend and trumpet player Steve Parke would fill in the blanks later). So we could have called it a day, but Ben and I ended up killing another hour or so chatting about…well, anything really. Music, sports, whatever came up. Found out we had more in common than either of us would have thought initially (certainly more than a shared first name and last initial anyway).

It was during this conversation, he told me the following: “If I like you today, I should like you tomorrow. When I consider you a friend, I consider you a friend.”

I’m glad he saw it that way. I didn’t take many notes (probably should have), but I made sure to get that line on paper.

Over the next few years, I’d run into him at the grocery store or Quincy University or at one of his many MANY gigs with his fellow Messengers (a.k.a. The Hardest Working Band In the Midwest). And here’s the thing: no matter where he was, there was always a line to say hi. He joked with me that he couldn’t get from the parking lot to the store or restaurant without getting stopped at least a few times. Despite casually brushing off his local celebrity status, everyone knew this guy.

So thank you for everything, Ben. We’ll definitely miss you around these parts and your legacy will not soon be forgotten. I’m proud to consider you a friend today, tomorrow, and forever.

Ben Braun