In the Loop
General News : Feb 11, 2016

Remembering former UF Gator Band member Michael Pirie

Always in the memories of friends and family, former UF Gator Marching Band drumline member and student Michael Pirie’s life and legacy is remembered by the Gator Marching Band, his friends and family on the fifth anniversary of his death, February 12, 2011.

Michael was a freshman studying marketing at the University of Florida, made the dean's list and played the bass drum for the Gator Marching Band drumline. He was thrilled to be part of the band and was often described by family and friends as respectful and an inspiration to his peers. Outside of school, he loved watersports, the outdoors and performing magic tricks for ill children in local hospital. He is also remembered for his sense of humor.

In 2011, Michael and other UF Fellowship of Christian Athletes members had gone cave exploring in Georgia. When Michael heard a friend in trouble while on the trip, he headed down the same rope to rescue him. Fellow UF student Grant Lockenbach was hanging by a rope in the middle of a snow-fed waterfall. Halfway down, their ropes became tangled and, after half an hour, their calls grew faint and finally stopped.

Michael's parents were presented with the Carnegie Medal in honor of their son's efforts to save Lockenbach. The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission awards the medal to individuals throughout the U.S. and Canada, who risk their lives to save or attempt to save others.

“As we remember Michael, what we can do is invest in the next generation of those who can make a difference in the world,” said Michael’s mother Sandra Haines. “This is what Michael would have wanted, as he spent his whole life giving to others.”

The Michael Pirie Memorial Scholarship Fund was established in the College of the Arts for students in the Gator Marching Band who exhibit strength of character, generosity, exuberance and dedication to the Gator Marching Band. Michael is remembered through this annual award that recognizes the qualities so loved in him and in others.

While discussing these qualities, Michael’s father Brent Pirie said, “He would want to challenge others to be better leaders. The family welcomes participation in supporting this fund through donations to continue Michael’s legacy through the scholarship.”

Since 2013, three students have been awarded the scholarship. Wade Bayless was the first scholarship recipient. The following year it was awarded to Alex Franklin who stated that he was extremely proud to play bass drum, be a part of the UF drumline, but he was even more proud of Michael Pirie, someone he never met. This year’s Michael Pirie Memorial Scholarship awardee is Eric Lundeen. The scholarship was started through the generosity of the Pirie family as well as friends and classmates of Michael’s.

To make an online donation to continue this scholarship remembering Michael Pirie, click here.

For more information about giving to the Michael Pirie Memorial Scholarship Fund, contact Jennifer Coolidge, director of development for UF’s College of the Arts, at 352-846-1211 or