Thursday, July 4, 2013

Remembering Jack Huentelman, Doctor, Musician, Family

There have been very few family members in my life, never knowing my grandparents, nor any cousins...only one aunt and uncle really well. When I was seven years old, My sister married my brother in law, Jack Huentelman. He was a family member forever, even after he and my sister divorced after 30 years.We still loved him as did my late mother. We had fabulous Christmas dinners at his home and rare cook outs in the summer on his deck.

Eight years ago, Jack was found dead in his home by a very good friend. He'd had a heart transplant several yrs earlier and did not take care of himself, as the anti-rejection meds were beastly. He tweaked the doses to make them tolerable. I can't even imagine what it was like for him.

He was a doctor-surgeon himself, so knew the risks. But still, it was very sad to  lose him suddenly.....never having been ever to tell him how much JOY his music brought to my life and what he had meant to me.

A friend was over at the house the other day and he noticed a metal horse on top of the hutch in my room. Jack gave it to me when he was dating my sister, because he knew, I was a little girl crazy about horses!

This is the horse Jack gave me almost 50 years ago.  See it from my bed as I type this .. .. He was a humble man both in his being a doctor and a musician.  How humble? I once heard him call the mechanic to see if his car was ready and heard him refer to himself as "Mr. Huentelman" to the receptionist.  I asked him why he did not use the term doctor. He said it wasn't necessary for them to know this, even though he'd gone to them several times. I said he'd gone a lot of years to college and deserved to be called a doctor. He just shrugged.

He was in solo practice most all his life as an Ob-gyn. On call, 24/7 except for RARE vacations or when he had a gig.  He was a true musician at heart and played wonderful piano. He also led a big band in which he wrote arrangements, by hand, neatly for all 20 instruments!  He was a genius, literally, and it came through in many things.  I took no pictures much as a kid and have few photographs of him.  This photo of his big band is not a good one but taken at the wedding of his son's reception at Mt. Echo park, 2002.

I asked him once, why he was an obstetrician....ALWAYS on call, in cold snowy, weather, in the middle of the night, to get out of a warm bed and drive to deliver a baby.  He told me that for all the work and surgeries he did, nothing was better than to help bring a little baby into the be a part of something so miraculous and he never took it for granted.  

His ability to write for a 20 piece big band was amazing....fabulous handwritten sheets of music...I wish I had asked for some but musicians begged for his bag of arrangements after his death.  A special musician got them and lives two streets over from me. I've never met him, but want to get the nerve to meet him and ask for a song or two, maybe, that he never plays. Just to have something that Jack had written with his own two hands.  Not a copy. It was mostly big band, or swing music with some modern pop thrown in for good measure.

 Jack's son, Jim and his wife, Jill at the reception where Jack's band played
 My mom was 82 here fast dancing to big band swing! She was amazing and we'd never seen her dance. First and last time. She rarely got to hear the big band.

These black and white photos I took with film in 2002 at my nephew's wedding reception, Mt. Echo Park

Me, my mom, Nancy and Jack 2001 or so?

I still miss him.  I know his family and friends do as well. Some photos I had that others gave me, the colored pictures. Don't know who took this of Jack at the piano. Love it.

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