Obituary of Howard Lee Hedges ~ 2007
Surrounded by family and friends, Homer resident and much-loved local musician Howard
Lee Hedges died Monday, Oct. 15, at 6:30 p.m. at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer
shortly after a wheelchair accident.
Services were held Sunday at Glacierview Baptist Church in Homer. Pastor Rick Wise
officiated at the service, which included music. A potluck and celebration of Howard’s
Born June 6, 1955, in Portsmouth, Va., Hedges grew up to become a brilliant
instrumentalist, playing trombone with some of the greatest musical icons of the modern
pop and jazz age, including Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Stan Kenton, Mel Torme, Ray
Charles, Julio Inglesias and the Temptations.
He also played for many years with orchestras attached to touring companies of Broadway
hits including “Nunsense,” “La Cage aux Folles,” “Les Miserables,” “A Chorus Line,”
“Cats,” and others. Hedges also played with the Miami Dolphins Band and recorded with
many other musicians, including many Latin bands.
Touring took him to Europe, which, in the 1970s, included a few nations behind the Iron
Curtain, such as Poland, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany. He played as well in the
Caribbean, Canada, and in every state of the union except Hawaii.
He was a beloved teacher and mentor for many musicians, including some in Homer, where
he and Kathy moved in December 1990. Once there, he quickly became central to the local
music scene. Local bands he played with included Looney Tunes, Too Fat To Fly, Elders
On Fire and anyone else wishing to make music. He also performed with the Kenai
Peninsula Orchestra and Inlet Winds Band, and over the years offered his invaluable
musical expertise and sharp wit to schoolchildren of all ages.
Hedges had many interests and hobbies. He was DJ of a radio show on KBBI Public Radio in
Homer called “Jazz To Nowhere,” a title taken from the name of a bus used by Stan
Kenton’s band when Howard was a member.
He had great interest in subjects as varied as the Civil War and the U.S. space program. His wife Kathy said he always wanted to be an astronaut, but was too big to fit in the capsules. He has requested that a vile of his ashes be sent to the space program to go into space on one of the shuttles, she said.
“Howard was love and laughter to all who knew him,” his wife Kathy said, adding that he
loved her and his son Michael without reservation. “He loved the Lord, finding great
comfort, peace and guidance. He loved his many friends all over the world, staying in
touch with people from his travels. He loved the people of Homer, riding around town in
his powered chair to share laughter and love.”
Hedges was suffering the debilitating effects of diabetes, yet “never gave up and
continued to give to all who needed him up to the end,” Kathy said. “He died how he
would have wanted, in the center of his beloved town, and surrounded by family and
Howard is survived by his wife Kathy, son Michael, his father, Gene Hedges and his wife,
Alice, of Fountain, Fla., and his brothers and their wives David and Terri Hedges, of
Ocean City, Md., Tom and Lori Hedges, of Fountain, Fla., Don and Donna Hedges, of
Nantucket, Mass., and nephew Tommy Hedges.
His mother Lola Hedges preceded him in death.
The family wishes remembrances to be put into a book for Michael.
Memorial donations can go to a college fund for Michael. Donations should be mailed to:
John Hancock, P.O. Box 17603, Baltimore, MD, 21297-1603. Checks should be made out to
Freedom 529 Plan, FBO Michael Hedges.
Alternatively, donations may be made to the Howard Hedges Performance Arts Scholarship
Fund through the Homer Council on the Arts.
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