In Memoriam: Donald Gerheart  

Neil Swapp, Executive Director of the New Mexico Music Educators Association, Shares Memories 

Don Gerheart award acceptance speechDonald E. Gerheart, former executive director of the New Mexico Music Educators Association (NMMEA), passed away March 21, 2024, at age 81. He was a music educator for 27 years and the executive director of NMMEA for 16 years.  

Don earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from the University of Wyoming in Laramie. He spent 27 years in the Los Alamos (NM) Public Schools, teaching band and music at the elementary, middle school and junior high levels. 

Don was passionate about music education and financial administration. With these two skills he continued to work, well after his retirement, for NMMEA as editor for 16 years, and Executive Director for another 16 years. He was inducted into the NMMEA Hall of Fame in 1995. 

“I had the great pleasure of working with Don first when I was Band Vice President on the NMMEA Board of Directors, and later as President,” shared Neil Swapp, Executive Director, New Mexico Music Educators Association. “During this time, I learned that Don was the consummate leader and educator. He always placed what was best for students at the foundation of every decision. What many saw as a quick decision on his part was really the result of hours, if not days, of deliberation to ensure the best decision was made.” 

“Later, as I transitioned to the Executive Director’s position,” Swapp continued, “he became a great advisor, mentor, cheerleader, and friend. What some don’t know about Don is that he had a wicked sense of humor and made those around him smile and smirk even in the tensest of times.” 

“Don was truly a selfless leader and impacted thousands of lives through his work in the classroom and in his leadership roles,” Swapp added. “This short remembrance doesn’t even come close to showing the impact  Don had on me and many others. Simply put, I’m a better person and leader because of my association with Don.” 

Read more about Don and find information on the public celebration of his life on June 8, 2024 

Don Gerheart at the U.S. Capitol with Berine and Jennifer

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