Bandsman retires after 77 years

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Peter Slack retires from the Tustin Ranch Corps band on his 85th birthday.

Peter Slack 17yrs old - Ikelston, UK
Pete Slack at age 17

After serving 77 years as a bandsman in The Salvation Army, Peter Slack retired from the Tustin Ranch, Calif., corps band on his 85th birthday, Feb. 21.

“You’ve been a faithful bandsman longer than most of us [here] have been alive,” said Southern California Divisional General Secretary Lt. Colonel Doug O’Brien during the retirement service at the Tustin Ranch Corps, where Slack played in the band for 36 years.

Pete Slack at age 85
Pete Slack at age 85

Corps Officer Captain Nigel Cross began the recognition, noting that Slack used his talent “to encourage and expand God’s kingdom.”

O’Brien asked Slack about his inspiration. Slack thanked God for his Christian parents, who first wheeled him to a Salvation Army open-air event when he was 3 weeks old. He also expressed gratitude to God for his wife, children and grandchildren.

“I’ve learned the importance of being an example to my children and grandchildren,” he said. His middle granddaughter, Cadet Stephanie Pavlakis, will be commissioned as a Salvation Army officer in June with her husband, Steve.

At age 8, Slack learned to play the tuba at Ripley Corps in Derbyshire, England. The corps needed a small group to play hymn tunes in the Sunday services, so Slack’s mother, who played cornet, taught her son the tuba.  

L-r: Bandmaster Ed Freeman, Major Doreen Freeman, Pete Slack, Lt. Colonel Doug O’Brien, Major Daniel Freeman at Slack’s retirement ceremony from the Tustin Ranch Band. celebrating his 77 years as a Salvation Army bandsman

When he was 17, he transferred to Ilkeston Corps and played in its band. In 1953 he moved to Kalamazoo, Mich., with a large group of bandsmen immigrating to America. He moved to California in 1960.

Slack was a faithful bandsman wherever he went, both in England and in California: Inglewood, Hollywood Tabernacle, Santa Ana and Tustin Ranch corps.

Tustin Ranch Corps Bandmaster Ed Freeman presented Slack with a commemorative plaque.

Slack was able to play his favorite selection, “The Light of the World,” with the Tustin Ranch Band on his retirement Sunday.

Due to failing eyesight, he decided it was time to lay down his tuba.  

“He may have lain down his tuba, but he will continue to share his faith with everyone he meets,” Slack’s wife, Joan, said.

View the retirement ceremony on youtube.

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