In the Loop
Friends and Giving : Aug 4, 2016

Past Gator Band Alumni Association President leaves legacy

By Brandon McKinley

A mellophone player, brother of Kappa Kappa Psi, and president of the band’s alumni association, his service to the University of Florida (UF) Fightin’ Gator Marching Band will never be forgotten.

Keith Kelly passed away on April 15, 2016.

He attended UF in the early 1980s, but after receiving his Associate’s of Arts degree he transferred to the University of South Florida (USF) to finish his music education degree.

He was a true Gator at heart.  

“He always considered himself a Gator,” his close friend Michelle Taunton said. “He never really talked about his time at USF. It was always about his time at Florida.

He spent his time at UF getting involved in the marching band. He played mellophone from 1980 to 1982 and became a brother of the band service fraternity Kappa Kappa Psi, Taunton said.

He continued his service as president of the Gator Band Alumni Association from 2010 to 2014. During his tenure, Kelly made unforgettable contributions to better the alumni of the Pride of the Sunshine.

Among his notable achievements, Kelly spearheaded the Centennial Celebration Gala in 2013, commemorating 100 years of Gator Band history and 40 years of its alumni association.

He also brainstormed the idea to create baseball caps for the anniversary weekend, said Taunton, who served as vice president during his tenure.

The white baseball caps read “Gator Band Alumni Association” on the front and “100 years” on the back, which complemented the Gator-orange alumni band polo shirts that Kelly had started earlier.

“He was instrumental—no pun intended—kind of getting the alumni band in a uniform look,” Taunton said.

Previously, the alumni band had a sort of hodgepodge look when they marched halftime, Taunton said. Kelly had the idea to get matching shirts.

Now, when the past marchers join the current Gator Band members on Steve Spurrier-Florida Field for halftime at the annual alumni band show, they march out wearing their orange polos adorned with the alumni association’s logo.

It was also under Kelly’s tenure that the association moved to online registration. He worked with the university to do away with the old paper form, Taunton said.

On his own time, Kelly even went into the UF archives and sorted through loads of historic band photographs from as early as the 1920s and 30s. Many photos were under generic UF archives, so Kelly put a grand effort into finding images and putting them in one place.

“He really wanted to archive as much as possible about the Gator Band,” Taunton said.

Kelly was originally from Tampa and attended A.P. Leto High School.

In addition to marching halftime at Gator football games, he also participated in competitive marching band during the summer through Drum Corps International. He was a member of the now inactive drum and bugle corps the Suncoast Sound and the 27th Lancers.

Throughout his life, Kelly served as an insurance claim supervisor for various companies in Florida.

He was also a big car guy, Taunton said. He loved cars and was a Formula One racing fan.

“He was one of those people that was always interested in everything,” Taunton said. “He always wanted to learn more.”

In honor of Kelly, the Board of the Gator Band Alumni Association sent a student from his high school to Gatorland Band Camp this summer.

A scholarship for a Gator Band mellophone player was also established in Kelly’s name. Contributions to the scholarship can be made at