CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, this article originally included the incorrect name and lyrics of a song performed by members of the Gamer Symphony Orchestra. The members sang "The Promised Land." This article has since been changed to reflect this correction.
Members of the Gamer Symphony Orchestra gathered in Memorial Chapel yesterday, as they do every semester to welcome members new and old. But this year, they did not look ahead to new arrangements and concerts just yet. It was time to honor one of their own.
David Scherr was always smiling, friends and family recalled at the memorial for the university student who died in December. The 20-year-old disappeared Dec. 19 and was found in his car about a week later by Prince George’s County Police. Officers believe Scherr, who was taking medicine for depression, committed suicide.
“If there’s one word that describes [what happened] for me, and I think a lot of people, it’s ‘confusion,’” said GSO Vice President Joel Guttman, who sat a few seats from Scherr in the orchestra.
Normally, on a night like this, the group would be holding their first meeting of the semester, said Alexander Ryan, GSO president. Instead, they decided to devote that time to remembering Scherr, who was the orchestra’s sole tuba player. Friends and family took turns sharing stories, expressing both their anguish over suddenly losing Scherr and their fond memories of his jovial, hardworking nature. A passionate musician, Scherr was devoted to his music and often spent hours in the GSO’s office in Stamp Student Union composing and arranging music on the group’s old computer because it had the best software.
“We feel that the best way to cope is to honor his memory — not to dwell on the circumstances of his death but focus on his memory,” said Guttman, a junior marketing major.
Ben Scherr, David’s brother, took to the stage as well to share some of his favorite stories about his brother, a “fighter.”
“He was always down to compete, down to do what he needed to do,” Scherr said. “He was the kind of guy who would whoop my ass [at racquetball] and say ‘good game, man.’”
Since David’s death, his family had been overwhelmed by the number of people who came out to the funeral and visited their home during the traditional Jewish week of mourning, Ben Scherr said. “I would do anything to have him back,” he told the intimate crowd seated inside the chapel. “It motivates me to be positive and a better person, and I know he wouldn’t want me to be anything else.”
Friends said David Scherr was kind, smart and funny, with a knack for pulling pranks. He never cursed, at least not around his brother. Scherr also had synesthesia — a condition in which an individual’s senses are linked, causing them to see numbers as colors, hear sounds when they see movement and even taste words. The condition is associated with highly creative people, so it’s no wonder, Ben Scherr said, that his brother was so talented musically and academically.
“He always had this really calm, contented air. He was incredibly friendly to be around,” added Ryan, a senior mechanical engineering major. “This is the most devastating event like this that the GSO has had to deal with.”
Many of those close to David said his death has made them rethink the way they look at depression. Scherr was not open about his depression, and for some it was a shock to learn their friend had been struggling.
“What happened with David was the exact opposite of what I expected,” Ben Scherr said. “One of the most common things people would say to me is ‘I had no idea.’”
Despite his hidden struggles, David Scherr made a lasting impact on everyone around him.
Before his death, the orchestra held a fundraising campaign to buy a tuba for Scherr to use. Scherr had been paying hundreds of dollars out of pocket to rent the expensive instrument.
Through the campaign site Indiegogo, members of the orchestra were halfway to their $4,000 goal when Scherr died. The campaign received a flood of donations after Scherr’s body was found.
The group dedicated the tuba and its spring 2013 concert to Scherr. They plan to play his compositions and have the tuba engraved in his honor.
“We will have people play David’s tuba for years to come. It will have his name on it. It will be David’s tuba,” Guttman said.
After stories had been shared and it was time to leave the chapel, the orchestra members stood up to sing one final piece of music for David — "The Promised Land," from Final Fantasy VII.