This way to FSSGB

In Memoriam

  • Bob Hart
  • Robert Peter (“Bob”) Hart, aged 78 years, passed away March 27, 2014, at his home in Maynard, MA.

    Bob was born July 7, 1935, in New York City, son of Gisela Johanna Hart, a German immigrant who instilled in him the importance of education. Bob attended New York City public schools, graduating from the Bronx High School of Science. He attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), the University of Chicago, and Illinois Institute of Technology, obtaining a PhD in Physics.

    Bob was part of the early computer revolution, working with mainframes and FORTRAN at Bell Labs in the early 60’s, and later for Raytheon and MIT Labs. He taught Physics and Computer Programming at the Oakwood Friends School and Hofstra University.

    Bob moved from New York City to Boston in the early 1970s, and had lived since 1991 in Maynard, where he involved himself in local affairs. He was a passionate advocate for the Maynard Public Library, and led a successful effort to preserve the small Haynes Park green space.

    An Eagle Scout, Bob loved being outdoors: walking, hiking, camping, and sailing. He loved contra dancing and folk music, and attended dance and music events and festivals for 50 years.

    He was known for his intelligence, his ability to converse on almost any topic, and his deadpan humor. His friends appreciated his integrity and commitment to his values, including thrift (Bob never passed up a yard sale).

    Bob is survived by his devoted and loving partner of 16 years, Louise Breyer. He is also survived by his son, Eric Hart of Burlington VT and his wife Pamela Laser and their children Daniel and Corey Hart; by his daughter, Linda Hart of Celo, NC; by their mother, Jenifer Morgan of Celo, NC; and by his many long- time friends. He was pre-deceased by a grandson, Gary Hart.

    In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Bob’s name to the Maynard Public Library at www.maynardpubliclibrary.org/Home/support.

  • Saul Aronow
  • October 4, 1917-February 11, 2013

    Saul and his wife Alice were founding members of the Folk Song Society of Greater Boston back in 1959. Saul earned a Ph.D. in Applied Nuclear Physics from Harvard and was a member of the faculty member at the Harvard School of Medicine. He worked tirelessly to fight for unions and other progressive causes, and was a mainstay in the local folk music community. He and Alice had six children (Victor, Frederick, David, Nathan, Louisa and Jessie) and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

    Click here to read the full obituary.

  • Kathy Moore
  • After a brief illness, longtime FSSGB member Kathy Moore died peacefully on June 23, 2012, with her family by her side at age 64. Kathy was born on October 8, 1947 to George and Helen Moore in New York City. After graduating from Swarthmore College, she moved to the Greater Boston area and settled in Somerville, where she raised two daughters. She was an enthusiastic and talented singer, and a devoted campaigner for social justice. Kathy taught high school in Somerville and elsewhere, and worked as a graphic and web designer. Kathy was a loving and beloved mother. She is survived by her daughters, Robin and Janet Ackerman, and her sister, Julie O'Donald.

    Donations in Kathy's memory may be sent to First Church Somerville UCC, 89 College Avenue Somerville, MA 02144, and will be split equally between three organizations that were important to Kathy: United Front Against Riverblindness, Mercy Corps and First Church Somerville UCC.

  • Richard Mungo
  • Rich Mungo of Burlington, formerly of Waltham and Lawrence, passed away on May 25 after a short illness. A native of Lawrence he was a member of the musical group Assabet Ramblers. He was also active in the Boston Bluegrass Union, and The Folk Song Society of Greater Boston. He very much enjoyed W.U.M.B's summer acoustic week camp vacations that he took over the last few years. He also worked for Academy of Creative Arts at Trinity which is a school for disadvantaged kids.

    Beloved son of the late Andrew J. and Rita A. (LaFontaine) Mungo. Beloved brother of Jeannette Sher-man of Brockton, Raymond of Signal Hill, California, Andrew J. of Newburyport. Loving and devoted companion of Donna Talmage of Merrimac. Devoted uncle to Eric, Brenda, Jodi and Phoenix and great-uncle to 2 great nieces and 7 great-nephews.

    In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Richard's name to ACAT c/o Trinity Episcopal Church, 26 White St. , Haverhill 01830 OR Unitarian Universalist Church, 326 Main Street, Wakefield, MA 01880.

  • Billie Hockett
  • The folk world has lost one of its most stellar supporters. Billie Hockett, founder of the Music For Robin concert series and the Conflict Calendar died peacefully on Monday, November 7 at 89 years of age.

    With more energy and ambition than a 20 year-old, Billie tirelessly promoted the music that she loved, producing exciting and eclectic seasons of bands and performers who were both world renowned, and known to barely...artists such as Battlefield Band, Boys of the Lough, Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick, John Renbourn, Kate Rusby, Andy Irvine, the Incredible String Band's Robin Williamson and Scottish rising star Emily Smith to name but a few. Although the music was mostly Celticand British in origin, she was eager to let people know of any new music she heard that excited her, whether it was the Swedish band Djarv, La Musgana from Spain, Welsh triple harpist Robin Huw Bowen, or Pennou Skoulm from Brittany. From unique concert halls to a delightful series of house concerts that brought the likes of Jim Malcolm, Len Graham, Les Barker and so many more up close and personal in the setting of her own living room, which usually involved pot luck dinner and socializing afterwards . She also produced some memorable multi-media events, including a wonderful tribute to the local legend "Mr. Bones." With a handful of volunteers and the goodwill of many, she created posters, distributed flyers everywhere, contacted the media, made visits to radio stations, and got the word out by any means possible.

    In addition to the concerts, Billie produced an extraordinary Internet phenomenon called "The Conflict Calendar" which was a reflection of her pure idealism of the world working together, in this case local concert promoters. The Calendar had a regularly updated list of scheduled and tentative Celtic and folk concerts in the New England area by which other promoters could be aware of related concerts and avoid conflicts that could fragment the audiences for each. It was a brilliant scheme, and very helpful as well for anyone interested in planning a night out.

    Born in 1922, she was a woman way ahead of her time, garnering degrees in mathematics and physics, being a pioneer in the nascent computer field, and delighting in gardening. inventing and woodworking (she had a full shop of power tools in her basement). Always a lover of folk dance and folk music, she had envious tales of living in New York and seeing the likes of Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly while sitting on living room floors. Her passion was fueled even further when her daughter Robin Blecher died, leaving her own legacy of pioneering Celtic concert production in the Boston area. With a mission to keep her daughter's memory alive, she began Music For Robin, and for more than 25 years gave us all some of the greatest music possible.

    Her last months were spent in Ithaca, New York, where she was cared for by her son Tom and his wife Sara. Despite failing health, her enthusiasm, wit and individuality never left her. And in so many ways, while the world is a far emptier place without her, her spirit will also never leave us. Thank you, Billie, for all you did: for music and for friendship. To quote Brian McNeill, fiddler, author, songwriter and longtime member of the Battlefield Band: "Hey Billie - Wherever you're headed, I know you'll see Robin. And when you get there, keep busy. Organize the biggest and best gig ever, there's plenty of talent to choose from, and no one better to do it."

    - Andy Nagy

    Scott Alarik shared this anecdote with us......'She lived a full, rich life. She told me once that the first folk concert she saw was Lead Belly. "Fantstic," I said. "Actually, no," Billie said, smiling wryly. "Why?" I said. "Because to this day it's the best concert I've ever seen. Everything since has been kind of a letdown." I never knew a more tireless champion of folk music.'

  • Barry Finn
  • FSSGB member Barry P. Finn, 58, of Derry, NH died Friday October 16, 2009 at the Elliot Hospital, Manchester, NH. Barry was born on February 5, 1951 in Boston, son of Elizabeth (Barry) Bent and the late Eugene Finn. A Derry resident for the last 22 years, he was formerly of Mission Hill, MA and Brookline, MA.

    Barry Finn met Neil Downey in the mid seventies while singing and playing at the Irish Music session in the Village Coach House in Brookline, MA. They formed the duo Finn and Haddie and performed primarily a cappella songs related to heavy work and hard labor. They specialize in the performance of traditional sea songs, shanties and work songs originating in the southern prison system. Recently they joined forces with Ken Schatz of NYC and the duo became a trio.

    Barry performed individually and with Finn and Haddie throughout the United States. He was a gifted songwriter who brought his unique style, talent and experiences to his music. He performed at the Mystic Seaport Sea Music Festival, New England Folk Festivals (NEFFA), New Hampshire's Great Bay Festival, the Gloucester (US) Maritime Festival, Boston's First Night, the San Francisco Maritime Festival, the Salem Maritime Festival, the Boston Antique & Classic Boat Festival, for Sea Revels in Boston, at Sail Boston Tall Ships Parades 88 and 92 and at the Massachusetts State House for the "Welcoming of the Captains" during Boston's last Tall Ships Parade. He also performed on board the USS Constitution, the USS Eagle, the USS Salem, the Unicorn, the Schooner Adventure, the Brig Carthaginian, the Polish schooner Zawisza Czarny, the Larinda, Canada's schooner Empire Sandy, the Shenandoah & Nova Scotia's Bluenose II.

    He is survived by his wife Justine Donovan of Derry; his daughter, Natalie Finn and his son, Gabriel Finn, both of Derry; his mother, Elizabeth Bent of W. Dennis, MA; two brothers, Daniel Bent of Walpole, MA and Earl Moore of N.H.; one sister, Cheryl Finn-Poole of Carlisle, MA. He also leaves behind countless friends in and out of the music community.

    Finn and Haddie website

    Here's an obituary written by Barry's sister-in-law Paula.

    Here's a great video of Barry singing Old Dollar Mamie. (You'll find other great videos of Barry on YouTube.)

  • Neal Gray
  • Neal was an absolutely amazing, high energy octogenarian who was singing with at least four choruses and choirs at the time of his unexpected passing in September 2009. Condolences to Neal's family during this difficult time, especially his daughter Michelle (Mimi), son-in-law Joseph, and grandchildren Melissa, Nicole and Joe, Jr.

    Please visit http://rememberingnealgray.blogspot.com to see details of the funeral and memorial service, and to leave your remembrances. (Log in as neal@fassman.com with the password nealgray if you want to add a post -- please put your name in it somewhere.) There is also a Facebook page dedicated to Neal's memory where people are posting photos and remembrances.

    Here are some lovely words from Neal's friends Chris Farrow and Dorothy Weitzman.

    Here are three PDFs compiled by Sandra Waddock, which contain text and photos emailed out by Neal to his "Angels" over the years:

  • Will Whiteley
  • I regret to inform you that William F.N. Whiteley passed over to the other side this morning [Friday, January 9, 2009] at 4:20 a.m., peacefully in his sleep at the Tremont facility in Wareham. Our family is planning a memorial/potluck and singing party; details will be sent out soon.

    We are all doing fine and choosing to see this as a wonderful cause for celebration of his life and love for his music.

    Love, Anna Whiteley Huff

    PS Here is a photo taken by my dad; not sure when. He was also a great photographer; among many other things.

    Email us for an address to send cards to his daughters Anna and Catherine: will AT fssgb DOT org .

    There will be a memorial service for Will on Sunday, April 5, 2009, 2:30-6pm, at St. John's United Methodist Church, 80 Mt. Auburn Street, Watertown. There will be a bagpiper playing for the first half hour, and then we'll sing some of Will's favorite songs, and other songs as the spirit moves us.

    Bio

    Will Whiteley was born in the 1930's in Pennsylvania. His grandfather was a cod fisher in Labrador, and Will lived there during the summer of 1944 and heard the fishermen singing sea chanteys to help them do their work. His father brought home a record in 1947 by the Almanac Singers called "Deep Sea Fishers", and heard a song from that record called "The Golden Vanity". He thought it was the lonesomest song he had ever heard, and it captured his imagination and fueled his desire for music. In 1949, he began to play the ukelele, and was told about Folkways Records the following year. In 1951 or 52, a friend played him a recording by Leadbelly (Huddie Ledbetter), which was a big moment in life for him, and he undertook to teach himself how to play the 12-string guitar. A woman at Antioch College in Ohio showed him a little bit about frailing the banjo in 1955. Around this time, Will also taught himself to play the Highland bagpipes. He played and sang ever since, and amassed a large collection of songs from all over the world. Will and his family performed many concerts in the New England area over the years. Blessed with a singular mind and a very good memory, he was a self-made folklorist.

  • Ed Softky
  • We were all shocked and saddened to hear the news of the passing of Ed Softky, longtime member of the folk music and dance community in New England. He died Thursday, October 9, 2008, after being struck by a drunk driver in Brattleboro, VT. He was on his way to a hospice volunteer training and had stopped to pick up some snacks; he was putting the groceries into his car when he was hit.

    I first met Ed in 1996 at a singing party at Ellen Schmidt's house, and we discovered a common interest in traditional folk songs. We arranged to meet to work out some song harmonies, and soon thereafter were joined by Alan Field. All of us loved, among other things, the harmonies of Finest Kind; they inspired us in our own singing -- to the extent that we joked once that perhaps we should call ourselves Kindest Find! Later, when Lynn Noel moved to the Boston area, we added her to the group and renamed it Lingua Franca -- music as the common tongue.

    Ed brought a childlike enthusiasm to practically everything he did, whether adding extra flourishes to his dance steps, finding wonderful and exotic vegetables at Asian markets, cooking up a storm in advance of a potluck party, working on some funny costume for a Halloween dance, or listening to practice tapes in his car so that we could make the most of our rehearsal times. The harmonies were glorious and seemed to flow effortlessly; it was rare that we had to write down the parts or sit down at a keyboard to walk through each chord step by step.

    Ed was also very involved in the Buddhist community, and had moved to Vermont to volunteer and translate at Thosum Gephelling Institute (the name means "a place to learn to increase and expand one's virtue in Tibetan) in Williamsville. The Institute held a memorial service for Ed on October 13th, which was attended by Ed's mother, brother, niece, and nephew, as well as friends from Vermont and beyond. The web site has a lovely tribute page: http://www.thosumgephelling.com/ed_memory.shtml.

    The Brattleboro Reformer also had an obituary: http://www.reformer.com/ci_10695721

    I found Lynn Noel's blog entry on Ed's work with her to bring Tibetan to Sacred Harp, and there's a clip with a recording of Ed singing:

    At some point, there will be a memorial gathering in the Boston area; stay tuned for details.

    I will forever be grateful to Ed for introducing me to FSSGB and Pinewoods Camp. We shared so many wonderful times with an amazing group of people who feel like extended family to me now. When I last spoke with him, he seemed to have found the path for which he'd been searching, and he was very happy. He will be sorely missed by those whose lives he touched.

    Liz Lewis

  • Lisa Neustadt
  • Those FSSGB members who were involved in any way during the '70's and early 80's will remember Lisa who has been described as "a great presence and influence" in the Society. She passed away on March 26, 2008, after a short illness with pneumonia. Her daughter, Karuna, relates that the last week before she got sick, the facility she lived in had kareoke one day. Lisa took her turn at the mike and sang several songs, with the staff and other residents yelling "Go Lisa!" She still enjoyed singing, and they played her CDs there, which people also enjoyed.

    Ellen and Allan Schmidt hosted a memorial gathering in honor of Lisa. Karuna was here from Oregon that day and attended the gathering. We shared photographs and ephemora from the time, including old Folk Letter columns that she wrote. We played Lisa's recordings that she did with the Angel Band and others. And, of course, we Sang!

  • Panos Constant
  • We are very sad to inform you that longtime FSSGB member Panos Constant died suddenly and unexpectedly on January 7, 2007. Panos' most active years as a FSSGB volunteer were the 60's, 70's and 80's, and included service on the Board of Directors, Membership Committee and Program Committee. He also collected our mail at the Post Office for many years, as well as distributing advance tickets for our larger concerts. He was a teacher in the Wakefield school system for 35 years.

    Panos was the son of the late Bessie & Charles Constant and brother of Helen Constant of Arlington. The funeral was held at Keefe Funeral Home in Arlington on Thursday, January 11th, followed by services in St. Athanasius The Great Church in Arlington. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to the above named church. Burial will be in Mt. Auburn Cemetery.

  • David Ingle
  • Longtime FSSGB member David Ingle died Jan. 14, 2006, of complications from coronary artery disease and an autoimmune neurological illness. He was 71 and had spent the past year engaged in the arts and his most recent scientific research. Some friends knew Dr. Ingle as a college professor and researcher in the psychology of vision. Others met him after his declining motor abilities made laboratory work too difficult, prompting him to focus instead on storytelling, songs, and poetry -- often in performances with his longtime companion, Libby Franck of Framingham. He was a scientist and a storyteller who embraced equally the loneliness of the lab and the limelight of the stage.

    A collection of materials from David Ingle has been donated to FSSGB by Libby Franck, including several books with titles like "Ozark Folksongs" and "Anglo-American Folksong Scholarship Since 1898." There are scholarly papers that he had collected and some that he wrote, such as "The Self-Image of the Irish as Hard-Drinkers: Reflections of 19th Century Pub Culture in Folk Songs" and "Images of Women in Traditional Song." There are song books and sheet music for songs of humor, fighting, drinking, temperance, outlaws and rakes, and the frontier. There are two shoe boxes of cassette tapes, mostly of drinking songs, but some of concerts and particular performers. And there are Sing Out magazines, old concert flyers, and a great photo of David playing the bodhran.