The beat goes on for the Brooklyn Park Lions’ Drum and Bugle Corps

Bruce Gurley, founder and former leader of the Lions' Drum and Bugle Corps, waves to the crowed at the 2012 Tater Daze Parade.
Bruce Gurley, founder and former leader of the Lions’ Drum and Bugle Corps, waves to the crowed at the 2012 Tater Daze Parade. (Photo courtesy of Brian Rogers)


The beat must go on in Brooklyn Park, where a community member’s legacy will continue, thanks to his brother.

Bruce Gurley, of Fridley, was a member of the Brooklyn Park Lions’ and founder the Lions Drum and Bugle Corps. He died Nov. 14 at the age of 51.

Hundreds attended his funeral Nov. 24, and that day Bruce’s brother Johnnie, of Brooklyn Park, was inspired to continue Bruce’s legacy by taking leadership of the drum corps.

A parent of one of the youth in the drum corps approached Johnnie at the funeral and wondered aloud what the band corps members would do without Bruce.

“The kids are so lost,” the parent said.

Those words rang in Johnnie’s ears, and he realized he wanted to do something.

“Trust me, my brother’s legacy is going to live on through me,” he said.

Johnnie didn’t waste time volunteering to take over the group and scheduling a meeting to talk about the future. That meeting happened last week.

“I wanted to do this the sooner the better, while (the kids) still have the drive for it,” Johnnie said.

Johnnie says he has the skills he needs to lead the corps because he was a member of another drum corps his brother started about 30 years ago, the Leo Johnson Drum Corps in Minneapolis.

According to Johnnie Bruce started both groups for the same reason — to keep kids out of trouble by giving them something to postive to do.

“Bruce recognized the need for some type of activity like the drum corps in Brooklyn Park,” Brooklyn Park Lions President Roger Backstrom said.

“Mr. Bruce” was a trusted mentor to the students in the Lions’ Drum and Bugle corps, which is open to youth in grades six through 12.

“He was like a father to them,” said Kelly Gurley, Bruce’s wife of 18 years. “… He had lots of patience. It was almost impossible to get him upset.”

Backstrom said Bruce had an important influence not only youth, but also on other Lions members and the community as a whole. He was recognized as a community leader.

Backstrom said he looks forward to seeing Johnnie maintain the drum corps as a group that would make his brother proud.

“We just completely thrilled that Johnnie has expressed an interest in continuing the oranization his brother started,” he said.