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. He was 52.
Services are to be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21, at Glacierview Baptist Church at 960 East End Road in Homer. Pastor Rick Wise will officiate at the service, which will include music. A potluck and celebration of Howard's life will follow at 3:30 p.m. The family has asked that those attending bring a white handkerchief.
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 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. He also played with the Miami Dolphins Band and recorded with many other musicians, including many Latin bands. Touring took him across the country and around the world.
He was a teacher and mentor for many musicians, including some in Homer, where he and his wife, 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, and 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 school children of all ages.
He had great interest in subjects as varied as the Civil War and the U.S. space program. 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," 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 suffered from 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 friends."
His mother Lola Hedges preceded him in death.
Howard is survived by his wife, Kathy; son, Michael; his father, Gene Hedges and his wife, Alice, of Fountain, Fla.; his brothers and their wives David and Terri Hedges, of Ocean City, Md., Tom and Lori Hedges, of Fountain, Fla., and Don and Donna Hedges, of Nantucket, Mass.; and nephew Tommy Hedges.
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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