You may never find a bigger fan of the Pride of West Virginia than Ed Gilger. His love and dedication to WVU’s Marching Band has led him to make a planned gift supporting his beloved band.
A West Virginia native, Gilger came to WVU in 1959 and decided to audition for the marching band at the encouragement of his suite mate. Gilger made the percussion line and as he says, “the rest is history.”
“With all that I did at WVU, the Pride had such an impact on me and treated me very well,” Gilger said. “I wanted to make this gift to give back to the university and the band.”
After college, Gilger settled in Princeton and became an insurance agent. He has always stayed involved with the Mountaineer Marching Band.
Gilger was one of the first members of the WVU Alumni Band when the organization was formed in 1969. He has only missed playing with the Alumni Band at two homecoming games because he was out of the country.
Gilger believes that there’s no better ambassador of the state and university than the Pride of West Virginia. It’s one of the reasons he’s worked with the band faculty and staff to bring the band to southern West Virginia for performances throughout the years.
“It’s always been important to me to stay active in my community, so I feel like it’s bringing two of my biggest passions together by bringing the band down to Princeton,” Gilger said.
Gilger spends months planning for the band’s visits, usually a stop on their journey to an away game. He approaches other local business owners for donations and has ultimately supported the Pride’s trip in whatever way they need - hotel rooms, lunches and more.
Gilger is already raising funds for the Pride of West Virginia’s next trip to Princeton, whenever that may be.
“We have a lot of small schools and university’s down here but many of the folks around have never seen a 400-person marching band,” Gilger said. “It can be life changing. Our community deserves to see that.”
Gilger was honored by the WVU Alumni Band in 2009 with the Outstanding Alumnus Award. In 2018, the Marching Band included Gilger among the honorees at the band’s annual Senior Night and Awards Banquet in Morgantown.
“It has been a true highlight of my life to be involved with the Pride of West Virginia,” Gilger said. “Many of my happiest memories involve the gold and blue.”