ROGERSVILLE — It takes a special kind person to find beauty in life’s simple pleasures. Costa Geros was able to do just that. A dedicated band director for 38 years, Geros impacted the lives of countless students through his work at Virginia High School, Sullivan South High School and Cherokee High School.
In light of his recent passing, several members of the Cherokee High School band alumni compiled their favorite memories of their beloved director.
Alyson Johnson-Cole, Class of 2011There are many words that could be said about Mr. Geros, as he was and always will be one of the most influential people in a lot of lives. Teaching was certainly his calling in life, as God gives us all jobs to do before we are called home. Mr. Geros had a limited time on earth as we all do, but he gave people the hope, love, and desire to carry out their dreams. As a band student under his direction many days were hard, but he taught us to always fight. As an adult, now I take into consideration how he showed compassion, took his time to listen, and always stood on how God would be there no matter what. He helped mold a lot of us into who we are today, and I’ll forever be grateful. So, Mr. Geros, as the Bible says in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith, and I believe today you are rejoicing in knowing that your work on earth was certainly a blessing to help others in their lives journey. One more time, we love you, we’ll miss you, and you’ll live on in our hearts forever.
Kasey Bruner, Class of 2012I’ll never forget two things he taught me. 1) If you’re mad at someone, sleep on it first. If you’re still mad the next day, then “tear them apart.” 2) if you love your job, it’s not really a job, but if you start to not like it, it’s time to move on. These are some of the things that I carry with me to this day.
Nikki Belcher, Class of 2018Mr. Geros is the one teacher whose lessons extended far beyond the classroom. While his funny stories often turned into lectures, the knowledge that Mr. Geros gave all of us is insurmountable. His legacy will surely live on, for every student he taught was touched by his love.
Brittany Bledsoe, Class of 2012There are few educators who leave lasting impressions not only on our minds but also in our hearts. William Costa Geros Jr. was just that educator for me. The lessons he taught me about life I still carry like gold coins in my pockets, even after the fundamentals of music theory have begun to fade in my memory. He expounded into his students the importance of doing all you can, never giving up on anything or anyone, and always finding value in those who are often overlooked. His greatest joy was bringing a smile to someone else’s face. I will always remember him putting together fruit baskets for Cherokee’s custodial staff as a Christmas present. The love he showed to everyone around him was astronomical, and what he meant to me I will never truly be able to put into words. Maybe that’s why he dedicated his life to music: to speak into the world what can’t be expressed by the barriers of language. I loved that Greek man, and because I knew him, I have been changed for the better.
Emily Redding, Class of 2016Thank you. Thank you for coming to talk to me every day for three years at lunch. Thank you for making jokes about my braids and talking to me about anything. Your constant support meant everything not just to me, but to every band student that had the privilege to learn from you. You always knew what to say and how to say it. You kept us on our toes and led us to our greatest moments as a band. I can’t express how much you meant to me and how grateful I am to have known you. I’ll miss you and your stories that you’d tell us. I’ll miss your hugs when you saw me and asked how I’d been. You’re one in a million, Costa Geros.
Billy Bozarth, Class of 2017I only studied with Mr. Geros for two years; however, they were some of the most impactful of my life, solely because of what I learned from him. Early into concert band of my senior year I found myself in his office, feeling as though I was in a pit, both musically and with life in general. I said “I don’t feel as though I can play these songs well enough. I don’t feel any emotion from my part.” He replied, “that’s because you’re not putting yourself into the song. Until you put all of your heart into the song and make it your own, you’ll never feel anything from it. Following the paper is one thing, but you’re not a musician until you change what it says, and move your soul with the music.” I took it to heart, and those songs were the most impactful songs of my entire high school career. I apply that to my life outside of music as well, and it got me out of the pit I was in. I owe far too much to Mr. Geros. He was an extraordinary man, and there will never be another like him.
Sydney Phillips, Class of 2016“Music is love in search of a word,” Mr. Geros always said. Today, I’m having a hard time finding the words to share the love I have for Mr. Geros. I wouldn’t be the musician or person that I am today without him. He believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. Mr. Geros is my hero, and I’m so sad that I have to live in a world without him in it. He always told us the story about his father asking him, “Son, have you done all you can?” I know that he truly did all he could. I spent almost every day for three years under this man’s direction, and I’m so blessed to have that experience. He helped inspire me to teach, and I know he has done that for so many others. My favorite band piece is one that he conducted his last year at Cherokee titled “On A Hymnsong of Philip Bliss,” which includes the hymn “It is Well with My Soul.” I know that Mr. Geros is surely singing that song in Heaven right now. Thank you, Mr. Geros, for teaching me to never lose my sparkle and for loving your students with your whole heart. I can never repay you, but I’ll live out your legacy for the rest of my years.
Leah Helton, Class of 2013What a difference a teacher can make. I met Costa Geros when I was 10. I was a young girl that wanted to be part of the high school band one day. I knew that I had to start in the middle school band. My only issue? There were no other students in the class. I didn’t want to be the oddball, but I wanted to learn music. Mr. Geros told me that I should take the class anyway, because it would be like free private lessons, and people normally paid loads for them. Thankfully, I followed his advice and stayed in band until I graduated with my bachelor’s degree. Mr. Geros was an inspiration to all, and he made such a difference in my small life.
Hannah Powers (Thurman), Class of 2014I was blessed to be a part of the Cherokee High School Band family with Mr. Geros for four years; however, his love for his students didn’t stop there. He taught us that band is a family and that we should support each other. He did just that. He constantly messaged me to encourage me while I was in college. Even when things in life didn’t go as planned, he would tell me, “Keep your head up and pray.” He helped me get through a lot of tough times in school just from simple messages that he would send. One of my favorite things about him was that he just couldn’t resist picking on me. His common joke when I said, “Hey, Mr. Geros” was to come back with, “Save your hay, you might marry a donkey!” He loved to leave funny comments on my photos on Facebook. His serious side, however, was very genuine and humble. He not only inspired me to pursue music, but he showed me what it is like to have a teacher’s heart. Mr. Geros believed that God came first and everything else was to follow, and he lived to that. His light was shown to many and has inspired students to keep his legacy going. He taught me that life is much more than teaching, but it is about loving the students. He pushed me to be better when I didn’t think that I was capable, and I am thankful to have learned so much from him. He always said, “Never lose your sparkle.” Well, Mr. Geros, you are my sparkle, and I am constantly reminded of that when I see that same sparkle in my students. I am thankful for the blessed hope that I will see you again just after a while. I love you!
Geros’ obituary along with many more written memories can be found at https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/kingsport-tn/william-geros-jr-8842281.