News

Menlo Park: Herb Wong, jazz icon and educator, dies at 88

Easter Sunday this year saw the passing of Herb Wong, 88, a long-time Menlo Park resident renowned internationally as a jazz expert and educator.

A mysterious box sparked Mr. Wong's lifelong fascination with jazz. As young boys, he and his brother Elwood had just moved with their parents to Stockton when a package arrived on the doorstep, addressed to the former occupant.

"As any boys would, they opened it up," said Paul Fingerote, a colleague and friend for more than 30 years. "They found jazz (records) and Herb said, 'This is my music.'"

The two men were collaborating on a compilation of Mr. Wong's liner notes and recollections, a project Mr. Fingerote intends to complete. "Herb was a living history of jazz... his writing was so exquisite, so sharp. It wasn't just the music he captured, it was a sense of the times."

Dubbed a "Renaissance man" because of talents that spanned multiple career fields, Mr. Wong wrote about and produced jazz shows for decades, and spent more than 25 years sharing his musical passions with others.

"Before they called it jazz education, this is what Herb was doing," Mr. Fingerote said.

He served as president of the International Association for Jazz Education and was elected to the Jazz Education Hall of Fame. Seven original jazz compositions have been written in his honor.

But Mr. Wong's accomplishments in the world of jazz are only part of his achievements.

After serving in the Army during World War II, he earned a doctorate from UC Berkeley in zoology and a master's degree in science education at San Jose State University. He went on to teach at several schools during his academic career and published numerous books on learning.

Mr. Fingerote described him as a "wonderful friend" who always wanted to know what was happening in other people's lives and "seemed to be excited about everything."

He is survived by Marilyn, his wife of 46 years, brother Elwood, and daughters Kira and Kamberly, in addition to four grandchildren.

Mr. Wong will be buried at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland. Services will be announced.

In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made in his memory to the Palo Alto Jazz Alliance, P.O. Box 60397, Palo Alto, CA 94306.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by randy albin
a resident of another community
on Apr 21, 2014 at 11:54 am

this man was a real legend locally. what a loss. he was well known for his knowledge in music. i did talk briefly with him on the phone. we need more like him badly. more people could share this info


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Local picks on 2015 Michelin Bib Gourmand list
By Elena Kadvany | 8 comments | 3,689 views

Marriage Underachievers
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,494 views

A Surprise!
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 1,477 views

Measure M-- I am not drinking Greenheartís expensive potion
By Martin Lamarque | 26 comments | 858 views

Best High Dives to Watch the Game
By Laura Stec | 2 comments | 649 views