There are parent volunteers, yes, but there aren't that many like Rita Gomez, an educator in the Fairfax School District who became president of the Bakersfield Youth Symphony Orchestra when her son took up music.

“She ... supported music and arts programs because of her children’s involvement in them, helping raise money for them and keeping them afloat even when the state was making cuts to them,” said Fairfax superintendent Michael Coleman, who spoke about Gomez days after her Oct. 18 death from cancer. She was 57.

During her tenure as president of the youth symphony, Gomez presented the students with a number of opportunities, including performing a concert for the 75th anniversary of “The Grapes of Wrath” at Cal State Bakersfield in 2014. Gomez combined her role with BYSO and as a board member of the Bakersfield Sister City Project to arrange a trip for the orchestra to Bucheon, Republic of Korea, plus a second tour to Great Britain.

“She was a stalwart soul with the youth symphony,” fellow board member Bee Barmann said. “She just hung on because she believed in it.”

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