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Remembering Cedric Erroll Flowers, Jr.

Sen. Richard C. Shelby

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Mr. President, I wish to pay tribute to Cedric Erroll Flowers, Jr., my dear friend who passed away on May 25, 2010.

Cedric was born and raised in Sumter County, AL, where he attended Demopolis High School. There, he developed an interest in English literature and world history, as well as a passion for music. He devoted his ample talents to the piano and the clarinet, the latter of which he played for the Demopolis High School concert band. This is remarkable given his failing, and eventual loss of, eyesight. Despite his blindness, Cedric excelled in high school.

Following graduation from Demopolis High School in 1951, Cedric enrolled at the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind where he pursued his love of music. Without eyes to guide him, Cedric studied and mastered the art of piano tuning by ear. It was also at the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind where he met Sue Akel, whom he would later marry in 1962.

After earning his degree from the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind, Cedric took his newly acquired skills to Savannah, GA, where he cared for all the pianos within the Chatham County and Savannah City Schools. In 1954, he came back to Alabama where he performed this same invaluable service for the concert series program at my alma mater, the University of Alabama.

In 1964, Cedric opened his own business, Flowers Piano Company. Known as the ``People Who Know Pianos,'' Flowers Piano Company began as a specialty piano retail store and a service-based enterprise. For many years, Cedric, who was also instrumental in founding the Tuscaloosa Music Merchants Association, served as the exclusive local dealer of high-end pianos in the Tuscaloosa area. As his business flourished, Cedric expanded the store's inventory to include band instruments and sheet music and offer beginner piano lessons.

Cedric's passion for tending to pianos did not cease with the establishment of his company. His skills as a Master Concert Tuner/Technician served the Piano Technicians Guild and the National Association of Music Merchants well. In fact, while continuing to serve and provide equipment to the University of Alabama, he worked with artists and musical groups who performed in and around Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. His expertise and precision benefitted music and entertainment throughout Tuscaloosa and Jefferson Counties.

Cedric also served the Tuscaloosa community as a deacon at the First Presbyterian Church of Tuscaloosa and a volunteer for many music and art-related endeavors and causes.

A faithful member of the University of Alabama family, Cedric never missed game day play-by-play radio coverage of the Crimson Tide. I can only imagine how happy he was to hear the sweet sound of the Million Dollar Band playing ``Yea, Alabama'' in the Rose Bowl following the Tide's BCS National Championship victory this past January.

I was fortunate to have known Cedric during his time here, and I mourn his passing. He is loved and respected throughout our community and will be missed by his beloved wife of 47 years, Sue, and his daughter, Marcia. I ask the entire Senate to join me in recognizing and honoring the life of my friend, Cedric Erroll Flowers, Jr.