Ex-World Famed bandsman dies at 41

Courtesy photo
Will Michael Polk, Jr. (back right) with alumni band during Homecoming.

     Will Michael Polk Jr. passed away as result of a heart illness, Wednesday, March 2, leaving behind a long legacy at both Paul Laurence Dunbar High School and Grambling State University.

The GSU alum will be remembered for his passion to take the historic sounds of The World Famed Tiger Marching Band, to the football field and halls of Paul Laurence Dunbar, a high school in the Fort Worth, Texas Independent School District.    

In the urban town of Ft. Worth you can hear the sound, the flavor, the chants of GSU from students thanks to Mr. Polk. 

“He was an outstanding example of what GSU aspires to produce from its graduates,” said Dr. Tavell Kindall, a close friend of Polk.

All he encountered, especially the many students he took to homecoming activities and to summer band camp understood Polk’s loyalty to Grambling. His genuine love for the school made him the ideal person for recruitment. As the band director he was driven to find opportunities and experiences for his pupils geared towards his alma mater. 

Polk started his freshman year in 1993 along side his crab brothers and later friends, Anthony Clomon and Eric Wright.

“I will always look at him as well as all of the 1993 freshmen band class as my brothers and sisters,” said Clomon.

As the years rolled on, Michael eventually moved up in the ranks from crab to assistant section leader. He was given the platform to lead others in the right direction musically. His ear for sound and his knowledge of music being played correctly is what Adrian Bonnor remembered as he sat between him and their section leader his freshman year in 1995. 

Courtesy photo Polk performing with the alumni band during Homecoming.

Polk performing with the alumni band during Homecoming.

Despite being in a leadership role while attending GSU, his presence was abundantly clear due to his size, but that did not stop him from keeping up with the best band in the land. 

“He was a taller, bigger guy, but he was sure to be rocking and putting on a show like a GSU bandsman is expected to do,” said Bonnor.

His friend also moved up in ranks over the years by becoming a drum major, the highest student position. 

He had respect for other universities outside of GSU, but made it a point to show his students just what Tigerland had to offer. Known for cliches such as, “get those legs up” and “give the people what they want”, he was a music professional and instilled the love of music in his students.

Those apart of Dunbar’s band loved him and expressed that within some of the letters they wrote to his wife, Wynter Polk. Michelle Bell, a senior at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School expressed how Mr. Polk impacted her life since joining the band. 

“He taught me things in life that I couldn’t get from anyone else in my family. He was the real reason I joined and stayed in the band this long,” said Bell. 

She ended her letter with her favorite quotes such as: “Black and blue always with you. Blue and white keep it tight” and “when one of us is late, were all late. When one of us looks and sounds bad, we all look and sound bad.”