Donald Heald, the beloved former band director at Dedham Middle School, died at age 54 last Sunday after a battle with ALS.
Serving as band director for 11 years until the disease forced him to step down in 2011, Heald continued to connect with students and community members as his health declined.
Dedham residents gathered in November 2011 and June 2012 with fund-raising events to help Heald pay his medical bills and offer him moral support. Heald attended the events, in part to thank his supporters. At the 2011 event, a steady stream of well wishers talked to him for hours.
“It wasn’t necessarily the words, just the fact they were there and coming up to me and smiling,” Heald said in an interview in May 2012. “People have great hearts and you just feel that.”
For Heald, music was a way to connect, and he was honored to get the opportunity to teach it.
“It’s this whole communication without saying a word,” Heald said in May. “You play it and you’re having these moments you can’t describe to anybody. That’s why music is so important and I’m glad to give people a chance to experience that. It’s one of the best things there is.”
Visiting hours will be Thursday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. and Friday from 2 to 6 p.m. at the George F. Doherty & Sons Wilson-Cannon Funeral Home at 456 High St. in Dedham.
Visiting hours Friday will be followed with a celebration of his life at the Holiday Inn at 55 Ariadne Rd., Dedham, from 7 to 10 p.m.