The Lakewood High School Music Department has been renamed "The George P. Read Music Department" in honor of the man and LHS graduate who has donated more than $500,000 to the district's music programs. The announcement was made by Superintendent Jeff Patterson during the May 24, 2014, Cleveland Orchestra concert at the Lakewood Civic Auditorium that was part of the Cleveland Orchestra at Home in Lakewood residency.
"We are beyond pleased to be able to honor a man who has given so selflessly to our students for so many years," Superintendent Patterson said. "We want our current and future students to know the incredible impact this man has had in helping Lakewood provide a peerless music education program to its students."
Also at the May 24 concert, the Cleveland Orchestra presented Read with a framed photograph signed by all its members.
A January 1944, graduate of Lakewood High School, Mr. George Read had always been passionate about music and believed that exposure to great music is an important part of a child's education. Determined to give each student in Lakewood an opportunity to experience seeing and hearing the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall, something Read could not do as an elementary student as his family could not afford the bus fee, Read reached out to the Lakewood City Schools in 2001 to establish the "George P. Read Cleveland Orchestra Endowment Fund". Thanks to his generous gift, every fourth grader in Lakewood, regardless of his or her ability to pay, attends a Cleveland Orchestra concert during the school year.
Two years earlier, Read had established the George P. Read Music Scholarship and Awards Endowment Fund to award LHS graduating seniors scholarship money to pursue post-secondary studies in music education or performance.
Mr. Read also set up an operating fund to purchase instruments, equipment, and supplies for all Lakewood school buildings and to pay for private lessons, teacher conferences, and music competitions. In 2003, his gift enabled the LHS Music Department to purchase the instruments necessary to create the nation's first high school rock orchestra, "The Lakewood Project".
Since his initial gift in 1998, Mr. Read has donated more than $500,000 to the Lakewood Alumni Foundation to benefit music education in the Lakewood City Schools.
"It's been a pleasure for our family and very rewarding," said Read's son, Tom. "It's been an easy thing to do because of the city, the administrators, the teachers, and, most importantly, the kids. They have been so appreciative."
George P. Read passed away on December 19th, 2014. His last visit to his beloved Lakewood was truly a celebration of this amazing man's life. He was able to hear The Cleveland Orchestra perform at his alma mater, the orchestra that he sends hundreds of students to hear every year, the naming of the" George P. Read Music Department" and a proclamation by Mayor Mike Summers, dedicating May 24th, "George P. Read Day" in the City of Lakewood.