CATHEDRAL CITY – In life, Mayor Gregory S. Pettis was a longtime champion of the Cathedral City High School Choir and one of its most ardent supporters. In death, the mayor’s support remains steadfast.
Pettis worked tirelessly raising tens of thousands of dollars to help send the award-winning choir to Australia, Italy, and Carnegie Hall in New York. The community responded in kind generously donating when requested.
The Cathedral City High School Choir was such a significant part of the late mayor’s life that he requested it perform at his inauguration in December 2018. They had, after all, performed on the world stage under the direction of May LeRoy.
“They are the official choral group of the city,” Pettis told Uken Report at the time. “We have a lot to learn from them.”
He also referred to them as the city’s future. Pettis accompanied the Cathedral City High School Choir last year when it performed at the Vatican snapping photos and video like a proud father.
With no fanfare, as Pettis prepared his Will, the Cathedral City High School Choir was on his mind.
He bequeathed $17,351.14 to the Palm Springs Unified School District Foundation in support of the Cathedral City High School Choir. The money was from Mayor Pettis’ election campaign and will assist them on their next journey of singing and performing for the world.
Sue Pettis, Mayor Pettis’ sister-in-law, said this wish was specifically documented in his Last Will and Testament.
May told Uken Report that on Feb. 1, a gentleman whom she later learned was Pettis’ campaign treasurer, approached her at the end of Pettis’ Celebration of Life service. He was the first to inform me that Mayor Pettis had intended to donate his campaign funds to the Cathedral City High School Choir.
“Clearly, this was a testament of his incredible and magnanimous nature,” May told Uken Report. “To be the chosen beneficiary and recipient of this gift was Mr. Pettis’ gentle nudge to me as if to say “continue what you’re doing with the kids.”
“When we worked on the fundraising for the trip to Rome last summer, he would call or text me to say, ‘I’m coming over to the high school.’ I learned after the first two or three times that that meant he had a check to give me,” May continued.
They had future plans to travel to different parts of the world, May said.
“In fact, he had already committed to join us on the choir’s trip this summer to the Bahamas where we are going to sing at the “Festival at Sea” organized by Performing Arts Consultants. This type of festival is an historic first for the choir as we will be singing on a cruise ship while we sail for five days and four nights.
“He will forever be remembered in our hearts,” May said. “We miss him but we vow to continue the work that we began together. We are grateful for this blessing and to have had Mr. Pettis in our lives.”
Carlos Meza, student director for the Cathedral City High School Choir, told Uken Report he was lucky enough to have had the privilege of traveling to Rome with Pettis.
“This was the biggest moment in my life where I truly adapted to a new environment and community. And this could not have possible without Mr. Pettis. Ever since I shook his hand for the first time, Mr. Pettis had an extremely warm and welcoming aura. Not only was he the Mayor but he seemed like good person to have around. There are no words to explain how horrible this loss was for me. But I would like everyone to know that he was everything anyone could ask for in a person.”
Nathan Carlin, also a student leader, was nearly speechless after learning of Pettis’ donation to the Cathedral City High School Choir.
“After receiving this very generous donation, I couldn’t really say much,” Carlin told Uken Report. “It’s amazing all the things he’s done for our choral program. Mr. Pettis was nothing but great and amazing all around. I had the greatest honor of talking and getting to know Mr. Pettis on our trip to Rome last summer. He’s done so many amazing things, not just himself, but for the people around him. He’s overcome obstacles in life where many would have given up. He’s made history and done more than any man I’ve known, and for that I have nothing but respect and love for Mr. Pettis. If he were here, I would love to thank him for all he’s done just for our choral program alone. May he rest in peace.
- Pettis Donates Campaign Funds to CCCHS Choir: Facebook