Beloved Michiana high school band director dies, the community reminisces

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WALKERTON, Ind. (WNDU) - As peace and quiet are the chorus of the country, the band's one of the high notes at John Glenn High School.

The school's band director, Daniel Fortlander, suddenly died Saturday at just 60 years-old.

Cathy Burnett, the band's second in command, said she'd known "Fort" since their marching days at John Adams High School.

"When Dan was in college and high school, I think he was one of those guys people didn't think he was going to make it. He was determined to prove he could do the job," says Burnett, the Assistant band director.

There was no "off" button for Fort's determination to touch lives.

Between John Glenn and Urey Middle School, he was the head of several bands...and yet somehow, he squeezed in time to teach a music theory class.

"He was there for 32 years. Those students are now adults who have been impacted by him in so many ways," explained Richard Fansler, a teacher at John Glenn High School.

Like Richard Fansler's stepson, Jacob Medich. He followed his brother's footsteps. Now his son, Gabriel, is doing the same.

"To have 3 Medichs be in his band has been a really...he was a really great man," says Jacob Medich.

But for Medich, Fort was more than that...

"He was music to me...he showed me really what music meant. It's not just notes on a page, it's what you feel. It's the emotion of life."