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In Memoriam

We've lost a lot of people who were passionate about ragtime music in the past two years.  Following is a partial list of some who are no longer with us.


1/4/2020 Bryan Cather

Bryan was a well-known St. Louis ragtime enthusiast, promoter and historian of note.  He was president of the Friends of the Scott Joplin House and editor of the group’s newsletter.  He worked at the Joplin House and actively researched the ragtime heritage of Joplin and St. Louis Ragtime.  Bryan was the 2021 recipient of the Scott Joplin Outstanding Achievement Award in 2021. He was 53.


1/8/2020 Buck Henry (Henry Zuckerman)

Buck Henry had many television and movie credits to his name as an actor, screenwriter and director but with all his many interests, he was an avid ragtime enthusiast often seen at the Joplin Festival in Sedalia where he would sometimes emcee concerts. He was 89.


3/17/2020 Nevin Almquist

Avid former president of the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival Foundation, Nevin was a volunteer extraordinaire and with his wife Jean, they were popular greeters at the Festival After Glow events. He was 78.


3/25/2020 Robert Frost

Robert Frost had always enjoyed ragtime and in the 1970s he began writing serious compositions that have become standards of the ragtime repertoire and he appeared at many festivals and programs throughout his long career.  He was 89.


4/19/2020 Ian Whitcomb

One of the most popular of the contemporary ragtime novelty performers was a musician, historian and familiar radio personality for nearly 50 years.  Born in England, Ian was an early rock star who traded his early rock and roll fame for a career in ragtime and tin pan alley music.  He authored several books on those subjects and was a popular entertainer and lecturer at events in the U.S. and Europe performing with his wife Regina. The often wrote as F. Arthur Nouveaux and Miss Lillie Langtry.  Ian was 78.


5/21/2020 Susanna Tichenor

Susanna and her husband Andy were part of the famous “Tichenor Family Five” and their acclaimed CD, Family Reunion. Susanne was a talented violinist.  She was 52.


6/12/2020 Rudy Emilio Torrini

Rudy was a popular clarinetist with St. Louis jazz and ragtime groups. He was 31.


7/3/2020 Dr. Lucille Salerno

Lucille Salerno was the beloved producer of the Blind Boone Ragtime Festival in Columbia, Missouri for 20 years and was instrumental in getting the Boone Home restored.  She received the Scott Joplin Outstanding Achievement Award in 2017. She was 89.


7/24/2020 Nora Hulse

Dr. Hulse was a popular ragtime performer and acclaimed historian of women’s ragtime heritage. Dr. Hulse frequently lectured on the contributions of women to ragtime music and she received the Scott Joplin Outstanding Achievement Award in 2004.  Dr. Hulse was 88.


7/26/2020 William “Bill” Kenney III

Bill Kenney had a long and distinguished career as a musician, historian and author of jazz and ragtime history.  His book The Music of James Scott is a tribute to his favorite ragtime composer.  He was 80.


8/12/2020 Dr. Clive Baker

Dr. Baker was a historian of ragtime and jazz and a performer for 30 years.  Dr. Baker was 85.


10/12/2020 Richard Kroeckel

Longtime ragtime pianist and mentor to generations of ragtime performers, Richard Kroeckle was especially well known in the Colorado area where he played for 23 years at the Diamond Belle Saloon in Durango. He was 75.


12/9/2020 “Professor” Don Burns

For five decades Don Burns performed as a ragtime pianist and popular humorist.  He was well known in the Toronto and Buffalo areas.  Don was 81.


1/5/2021 David “Red” Lehr

David was a popular St. Louis instrumentalist who began his career began as a banjo player with Don Scheer’s Banjo Band at the old St. Louis Gaslight Square. He played with Jean Kitrell’s Jazz Incredibles and her St. Louis Rivermen and led the latter group when Jean retired. David was 83.


2/8/2021 Janice Cleary

Janice Cleary was one of the country’s foremost turn of the century sheet music collectors especially known for her ragtime collection. She received the 2015 Joplin Festival Outstanding Achievement Award for her work in this field.  She was 96.


Herbert Frei, aka Mr. Chocolate, was a special man to say the least.  This man from Switzerland enjoyed our festival so much that he wanted us to get to know a young ragtime performer from France.  Fans would never have gotten to know Sebastian Troendle and his family without Herbert’s repeated financial support.

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