By Marla Terminel
A life lived so beautifully, generously, and kindly should be remembered as such…
It is in deepest sorrow to announce the death of the beloved band volunteer, Ms. Brenda Toltin, better known by band students as “Nana”.
Nana passed away at the hospital the morning of New Year’s Day after several weeks of battling infections in multiple systems in her body. She was hospitalized the Wednesday before her death when her body did not respond well to treatment.
“Nana was the whole band,” said Pueblo High School music teacher and band director, Mr. Jesus Jacquez. “She [Nana] has spent countless days and so much of her time with the band.”
He added that Nana consistently spent full school days in the band room and was still present for after school practices and sports games.
Nana volunteered with the band, unpaid, for more than 30 years, longer than any high school band director has ever taught in Tucson.
Color Guard junior Natalie Trujillo said, “I will never forget a time after Nana took some time off class. She greeted me in the band room with the biggest smile ever. She always asked me how I was doing and always told me how amazingly the whole [Color] Guard was doing.”
As much as Nana was a volunteer, she has been a friend to the hundreds of music students who she has worked with.
“I was broken up with once, so I sat next to her and let everything out to her as she listened to and comforted me,” said freshman band member Victoria Borquez. “She was such a sweet and amazing soul, and I will never forget the times that we shared together.”
Sophomore band member Gage Tellez said, “At our first marching competition at Sabino [High School], Nana sat next to me and noticed how stressed I was. She comforted me with her stories about the past. She never accepted ‘no’ for an answer whenever she offered me food or a ride home.”
Despite the untimely bereavement to all current music students at Pueblo, the band will continue to function with a few changes to honor her memory.
Jacquez said that the entire end-of-the-year concert will be dedicated to Nana, featuring some of her favorite music played by the band and choir performances inspired by her favorite TV show, Glee. Two of her favorite songs, “Ex’s and Oh’s” by Elle King and “Happy Together” by The Turtles will now permanently be “stand” tunes to be played at every pep event and sport game. The uniform room will also be named with a plaque in her memory.
“It’s okay to be sad,” said Jacquez. “This was a shock to everyone including myself. Everyone will react to this differently, but we will always be here for each other through this.”