By Chris Kennison (Jan. 2023)
We said goodby to one of our HSGA members and friends – Margie Mays, on November 17th 2022. She was a passionate and dedicated musician and steel guitar artist who had been an HSGA member since the early 8os.
She performed on steel guitar for over 70 years, and in recent years had many students who were lucky enough to find her. I first met Margie at HSGA in Joliet over 20 years ago – and became an instant fan. At first listen, you knew she was a pro.
She was an audience favorite everywhere she performed. I was always inspired by her arrangements and her touch and tone on the steel – so smooth! And always professional – with a big smile and a twinkle in her eye – you knew she loved playing and sharing the music on steel. I would always practice harder after hanging out with Margie at steel guitar festivals. I was lucky to be able to share the same stages with her in recent years at HSGA events, or larger shows like the Southwest Steel Guitar Assoc. convention, or the Texas Steel Guitar Assoc. in Dallas, or Scotty’s in St. Louis. And also glad not to have to follow her performance!
She and her husband Don have lived in Mesa AZ for the past 29 years – where she taught steel and performed locally. She said “Don was my roadie” and he was – for all the time they lived together. He supported her 100%.
They were inseparable. I’ve been a resident in Mesa in the winter for over 10 years and I looked forward to our visits which were way too few because I was always “at a gig”. When I’d visit we’d talk in her music room which is a tribute to her long career in music – with pictures of her sharing the stage with her sister in the early years – and well known steel guitarists like Jerry Byrd, Don Mays Buddy Emmons, Scotty, Speedy and many more. She and Jerry Byrd were great friends.
In recent years if you attended HSGA shows – you’d hear her play her prized Excell Double-8 – it was her main guitar. Don would always be there to help her get it on stage and set up. Jerry Byrd borrowed it once at a show in Indiana – she said “it had his fingerprints on it for a long time”. But she also played resonator, lap steel and was a great pedal steel player. Margie Mays was born July 28, 1935 in Los Angeles, CA. She had one sister – Virginia Thompson (Ginger) – and Margie was the oldest. She started playing steel guitar when she was 10 years old. She told us a man came to their door with a little wooden steel guitar and said he was giving lessons. After 2 years she was playing shows and soon joined a U.S.O. group based in L.A. The Air Force flew their troupe to many bases around the country. She met Don – her husband, on a blind date and they were married on March 1, 1959.
When they moved to Torrance CA for Don’s work in aviation – she was playing in local bands where she met John Agar ( movie actor) and started a new band called “The Freedom Train”. She was hired as the ‘girl singer’ and steel guitar player. Margie told me she was especially proud of the Freedom Train – they performed all over Southern California. She said, “We always did our last number “America, the Beautiful” as a tribute to John Wayne and John Agar recited the poem “America, why I love her”. It always brought the house down and got a standing ovation”. When she lived in Georgia for a few years, Margie was in the warm -up band for the Gatlin Brothers when their tour was in Atlanta. She told me: “I have loved Hawaiian and Country music all my life and Jerry Byrd was my hero. I was lucky enough to be friends with him for many years and appeared on the Ho’Olaule’A May 7, 1989 in Hawaii. I have been a member of HSGA since the early 1980’s and a member of the Texas Convention since about the same time.” Margie will be missed. At her service the pastor told us to value the silence – because silence gives music its power. The pauses make what comes next more powerful and gives music, and life, its rhythm. Plato said “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything”. Thanks Margie for all the music!
(February 29, 1940 – March 13, 2022)
DONALD “DON” RAYMOND FULLMER, , 82, Mechanicsville, VA, passed away peacefully on Sunday, March 13, 2022. Born February 29, 1940, in Waukesha, WI to Raymond and Emmarette Wright Fullmer, and raised in Clinton, IN. He was preceded in death by his parents; brother Maurice Davis; and niece Marlene Maxwell. He is survived by his daughters Kimberly Foxwell (Andy) and Melissa Hicks (Mike); grandchildren Andrew Tyler Foxwell, Lindsey Jacobs and Krista Hicks; and niece Diana Haverberg (John). Don proudly served in the US Navy on the USS Cony and retired from the City of Richmond as an Arborist/Horticulturist after 33 years. A recipient of awards for landscape design and woodworking. He enjoyed travelling the world including Egypt, Tahiti, France, England, and regularly to Hawaii. Don’s greatest passions were fishing “any and every” pond and playing his steel guitars (member since 1966 of the Aloha International Steel Guitar Club). He also enjoyed winning Bingo, telling jokes, and showing off his prized 5” Megalodon shark tooth he found on the Virginia shores. Heartfelt thanks to his caregivers June Aherron, Brenda Cook and Bon Secours Hospice. Don was a cherished father, grandfather, and genuine friend to many, and will be deeply missed and forever in our hearts. The family will honor his memory privately and asks those who wish to express sympathy to plant a tree or flowers in remembrance.
(August 7, 1926 – March 18, 2021)
We got the sad news from Wally Pfeifer just before press time that we have lost one of our core, longtime members, Donna Miller, who performed and served at many a club convention in both Joliet and Fort Collins. The following is the notice, which appeared in the Joliet Herald-News online edition:
“Donna Faye Miller, 94, of Oswego, Illinois formerly of Joliet, Illinois, died on March 18, 2021 at Bickford Senior Living in Oswego, Illinois. Donna was born on August 7, 1926 in Chicago, Illinois to Charles and Hattie Reise.
“Charles and Hattie Reise moved to Lockport, Illinois where Donna attended grade school, junior high school, and graduated from Lockport Senior High School in 1944. Donna met her future husband, Frank Miller, at Lockport Senior High … where she was senior class treasurer and Frank was senior class president. After graduating from high school, Donna married Frank on April 14, 1945.
“They would have celebrated 76 years of marriage this April 14th. Three sons were born to this marriage union: Jim, Eric, and Cory. Donna raised their three sons while first working as a hostess at various restaurants in the Joliet area and then as a dental assistant for Dr. Long of Joliet.
“Donna retired as a dental assistant in 1984 and she and Frank moved to a retirement community in Mesa, Arizona. They also had a vacation home in Honolulu, Hawaii where they would vacation each year. Donna and Frank truly enjoyed their retirement and traveled to locations within the United States, Canada and Europe.
“In addition to traveling, Donna loved to sing Hawaiian music and play the ukulele while Frank played the steel guitar. They were an invaluable part of the steel guitar community. Helping to organize many of the steel guitar conventions, Donna and Frank performed for years at the [HSGA] conventions held in Honolulu and in Joliet. When Donna’s health began to fail, Donna and Frank left Arizona and moved back to Illinois to be closer to their sons. Donna resided at Bickford Senior Living until she passed on March 18, 2021. Her husband was playing some of her favorite Hawaiian songs.”
Former HSGA president Don Weber writes: “So sorry to hear of Donna’s passing. I helped Frank and Donna many, many years ago along with Wally Pfeifer in arranging the Joliet conventions. When they moved away Wally and I took the job of coordinating the conventions, but Donna stayed on as part of the team. She ran the registration desk and kept everything running smoothly. She was a great and talented lady. Just recently the local paper ran an article about the demolition of D’Amico’s restaurant building. Donna and Frank arranged dinners there for convention attendees. The restaurant was closed to the public, and we enjoyed good food and Hawaiian music all evening. Good times and good memories. Aloha good friend.”
Duke Kaleolani Ching, a “mainstay” at all our Joliet conventions, writes: “I’m sorry to hear the sad news. My condolence to Frank. Aloha, Duke and La Verne.”
And finally outgoing HSGA President Frank Della-Penna adds: “As I have thought back about Donna and Frank Miller, a stage memory comes to mind. At a Joliet convention I had performed a solo piece on my Kamaka ‘ukulele. As I finished my set, Donna approached the stage with her newly found possession of a beautiful banjo uke and displayed it to me with a glimmer in her eye noting my appreciation of the instrument. As noted by Don Weber, she was frequently on the registration desk, and I would beseech her to write out my name badge, as her handwriting was much more artsy than my scribble. Donna’s contralto voice was soothing accompaniment to Frank’s playing on the triple-neck Fender Hawaiian steel guitar. I always looked forward to Donna and Frank’s performances of Alvin Isaacs’s compositions as well as other old-time favorites.”
Lorene Ruymar (click for the full story)
By Frank Della-Penna
It is with sadness that we report the recent passing of HSGA member Ron Simpson of Darian, Illinois at age 73. Ron and his wife Nancy were fixtures of our Joliet conventions and also of the AISGC conventions in Winchester, Indiana. Ron was always eager to listen to other performers and to play the steel guitar on stage and with others in jam sessions.Despite the fact that I sat talking with Ron and Nancy many times at conventions, I never knew Ron served as a U.S. Marine. We both served in the Far East. I was on Okinawa and Ron served two tours in Vietnam at the U.S. military base at Danang. We both shared the same occupational code of MOS 0842 (artillery radio operator). Had I known this I would have talked his ear off, sharing my own memories and listening to his. But Ron was very quiet and reticent to engage in dialogue. I don’t know whether this was due to shyness or the result of the horrors of war he may have experienced.
Ron, Nancy, my wife Stephanie and I enjoyed one another’s company and shared many meals together over a period of several years. Ron is survived by his loving wife of 52 years, Nancy. Ron’s voice and music will be missed.
We received the following from Wally Pfeifer, also a U.S. Marine: “We are very sad to hear this. Ron was a good friend and a great steel player. Also, a fellow brother Marine. I was just about to send him a CD of one of our favorite Hawaiian steel players but I wasn’t fast enough and time ran out.“
We live about fifty miles from each other and Ron and Nancy were always inviting Peg and me up to go to the Tiki Hut near them. Unfortunately, we never made it as we didn’t want to drive in city traffic at night. I believe Ron and Nancy attended every Joliet convention and a lot of the Winchester conventions. One year they brought their whole family to Joliet and filled a whole table. We all have good memories of them.”
We are also sad to report the passing of former HSGA photographer Paul Weaver.
Not long ago Wally Pfeifer advised us that, after residing in a nursing home for a couple of years following a stroke, he recently moved back to his home for hospice care. Paul is survived by his wife, Hideko.
From Alan Akaka:
So sorry to hear of Paul’s passing. He gave so much of his time documenting the many artists and members at HSGA events and conventions. Sending my deepest condolences to Hideko san and the ʻohana. May he rest in love and peace.
From Bobby Ingano:
Hideko, my deepest condolences to you and family. May Paul Rest In Love.
Michael Alan Scott
Sad news from Richard Scott via Wally Pfeifer that his father, Mike Scott, longtime club member and professional steel guitarist known to us all, passed away this past December.
Thanks to Mike’s daughter Teresa Scott, who wrote us the following retrospective on Mike’s life and professional accomplishments.
Michael Alan Scott June 22, 1926 passed peacefully on December 8, 2020 at the age of 94 after a long battle with dementia. Predeceased by his beloved wife Vera (2011), they spent 60 years building a wonderful life together. Originally from Wiltshire, England he emigrated to Canada in March 1954.
Vera followed him six months later with their young son Richard. Their daughter Teresa was born in 1960.Mike was attracted to the sweet sounds of the steel guitar back in England, sounds that he first heard played on a recording by Felix Mendelssohn featuring steel guitarist Roland Peachey. The song was “In the Mood.”He started taking lessons from a local guitarist but after about ten lessons he quit and continued studying on his own. Soon after he had learnt enough to play with the local dance bands in his hometown area of Wiltshire, England.When Mike arrived in Canada he immediately joined the Toronto Musicians Association and became a member of AFM Local #149. Eventually Mike formed his own Hawaiian music group and Mike “Malihini” Scott & his Hawaiianaires was born.
Over their extensive career Mike and his Hawaiianaires played literally hundreds of different venues, and he popularized Hawaiian music in some of Canada’s most prominent hotels and private clubs, from the Beautiful Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta to the world acclaimed Royal York Hotel in Toronto. When the famous Trader Vics opened their Toronto location, Mike and his Hawaiianaires were chosen to open the room. They were also frequent musical guests at the infamous Bali Hai room in the Ports of Call restaurant.
Mike also played as a guest guitarist with Sam Makia’s Hawaiian Orchestra at the Hawaiian Room of the Lexington Hotel in New York City, with Hal Aloma at the Luau 400 in New York City, and with Pua Almeida as his steel guitarist during the period he was playing in Toronto in the early ‘60s.
His unique and entertaining manner has endeared him to a vast following of Hawaiian music lovers around the world. Mike is considered one of the great exponents of Hawaiian music and has been featured on several CBC television specials, a TV appearance on City TV breakfast television. He has recorded with Don Paishon, wellknown radio and recording star with the “Hawaii Calls” radio show. As well, he has recorded several full length record albums and CDs. His song “Pua Nani O Hawaii” recorded in 1979 was featured in the Hollywood film American Ultra and several episodes of SpongeBob Squarepants.
Despite his success in music, Mike was never a fulltime career musician. Yet when he retired from his day job he continued to perform and record music. His last live performance was in Toronto in 2014.
[ED: Teresa Scott would like to direct members to the online obituary and especially to a guestbook on the same page where members can sign and remember Mike. Just go to www.legacy.com/obituaries/thestar/ and search on “Michael Scott.”]
Some remembrances from members: President Frank DellaPenna writes, “Aloha Teresa, I am saddened by Mike’s death. We were good friends and as I used to say, we used identical white MultiKord Hawaiian guitars. Mike was an excellent musician and I know many of our members have his LP and CD recordings, as well as video recordings from our AISGC conventions at Winchester and at HSGA in Joliet, Illinois. When he and Ian Ufton paired up, you could bet on a great musical experience. Very active in Canadian and U.S. music circles, he also had a following of folks in Europe and places beyond. Teresa, we all thank you for the care you provided to Mike during his illness. With warmest regards, Frank.”From Chris Kennison: “I just heard Mike Scott passed away (from Vaughn Passmore’s post on Facebook). Such a great guy. I loved his playing. And his knowledge was deep on Hawaiian steel. So sad to hear…”A wonderful rendering of Joliet convention fixtures, Mike Scott and his wife Vera Scott.
(July 29, 1937 – December 6, 2020)
We got sad news just at press time that former longtime HSGA member Millie Tipka passed away in December. A fixture of our Joliet conventions, Millie handled our convention raffles raising funds for the club and generously donated prizes for the raffle over the years. One of the sad aspects of our move to Fort Collins was losing touch with so many of our early, core members from the Midwest like Millie and husband John Tipka.
Writes longtime former HSGA member Doug Smith: “Millie was one of a kind. We will miss her.” From Bobby Ingano: “Rest in love, Lady Millie, my smoking partner.”The following was excerpted from Millie’s obituary, which appeared in the December 6, 2020 online edition of the New Braunfels, Texas Herald-Zeitung:“Mildred Elizabeth (Straw) Tipka, 83, passed away peacefully in her sleep on Sunday, December 6, 2020, at her home in New Braunfels, Texas after a long illness.
She was born on a farm in Swanton, Fulton County, Ohio on July 29, 1937. She was the daughter of Alvin and Hazel (Shanteau) Straw. Millie met her husband of 65 years, Major John William Tipka (US Army retired) in Toledo, Ohio. They were married on December 3, 1955 in Auburn, Indiana. “She followed her husband wherever his military career sent them. She had a keen sense of adventure and always made each move whether stateside or abroad seem effortless and fun. She lived life fully and always had a smile on her face. She enjoyed traveling the world and taking cruises. She was a wonderful, loving wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend. In 2018, Mildred and her husband John moved from Columbus, Ohio, back to Texas after being gone for more than fifty years to be close to two of their daughters.
She was active in many organizations throughout her life and was a member of the Green Mountain Boys Chapter of The Daughters of The American Revolution (DAR) in San Antonio, Texas.“Due to the current [coronavirus] situation a celebration of Mildred’s life will take place at a later date. Memorial contributions can be made to The Alzheimer’s Association or The American Lung Association in her memory.
Paul Michael Honeycutt
By Chris Kennison
This year we lost two dear friends, who were musicians, HSGA members, and volunteers, which made the Fort Collins festival a bit melancholy for me. But I know how much they both enjoyed being a part of our annual event and that makes me smile.
Our friend Paul Michael Honeycutt passed the Wednesday before the convention. He was our sound technician for all the previous years in Fort Collins. Paul was a sweet man and a creative musician. He performed locally and also did sound for the local radio station’s “Live at Lunch” show. He always did a most excellent job running the sound system for us. He was going to play a set this year on steel. Rock on Paul.
By Chris Kennison
And our good pal E.P. Davis lost his battle with cancer recently. EP helped in our first years in Fort Collins by running the ticket sales at the door. He was a topnotch ʻukulele player as well, and usually did a set or joined me on stage. EP and his wife spent winters at their home on Kauaʻi and summers in Fort Collins. He loved Hawaiʻi, and often had his uke albums in the running for the Nā Hōkū awards. He and I were codeejays on a show we had on local public radio for seven years called “The Steel Guitar Jam.” We did a drivetime show every Thursday and played steel guitar instrumental music from all genres. We’d even take our instruments in and play live sometimes. Aloha my friends.
As reported in the last member newsletter, longtime HSGA member Philip Bender passed away in July of this year. The family extends an invitation to a celebration of his life on September 30. A military graveside service will be held at Garland Brook Cemetery in Columbus at 11:00 a.m.. Following that will be a “Celebration of Life Gathering” from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Hanger 5 Restaurant at Columbus Municipal Airport. Family and friends are encouraged to come and share stories and thoughts about the life of Phil Bender.
Listen to Phil’s music on our website at Phil’s page
You may read his online obituary at http://www.therepublic.com/2017/07/30/philip_e_bender/
Kenneth Arthur Ufton
Ken Ufton, around 1972
(September 2, 1921-October 14, 2011)
In October, we got the sad news that member Ian Ufton lost his father Ken Ufton shortly after the Joliet convention this year. Ken Ufton was a musician of note and had an impact on the music industry… unusual for someone who did not make music his life’s work. He is known for his work with his band, Ken Ufton and His Harmony Hawaiians, including an LP for Maple Records’ “Sweet, Sweet, Steel” series and many other recordings made in both England and Canada. Ian’s mother Doris, also known to many HSGA members, passed away in 2010.
Please take a moment and listen to some of Ken’s beautiful contributions to the world of steel, posted on his HSGA audio page. Look for more information about Ken’s life in the fall issue of the Quarterly.
Ending the year on a sad note…
It is with great sadness that we share the news that HSGA member Dave Giegerich passed away on December 29, 2010 after a long and courageous battle with Aplastic Anemia.
From Betty Wheeler and from Dave’s family via their caringbridge.org page:
Dave lived a full and good life. Loved by his family as well as the hundreds of you who have shared your thoughts and prayers with us over the past three years. He also loved his Dobro and steel guitar. Please draw solace at this difficult time from knowing he was picking away to the very end. We should all be so lucky.
Dave was the leader of the Hula Monsters, played dobro with Wayne Taylor and Appaloosa, and performed or recorded with a wide range of artists including Bill Harrell, Eva Cassidy, Bill Kirchen, Johnny Gimble, Robin & Linda Williams, John Starling, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, Commander Cody, Mac Wiseman, Greg Kihn, Cracker, Bobby Hicks and Jimmy Arnold.
A celebration of Dave, his life and music was held in January.
It is with great sadness that we share the news that long-time HSGA member Bernice Honold died at home at about 3:00 AM this morning, September 6, 2010, after a long bout with cancer at the age of 84.
Bernice was born October 11, 1925 in Detroit. On April 15, 1944, Bernice married Richard Leonard Honold at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in Detroit. Bernice and Richard were foster parents for Lutheran Child and Family Service for over 33 years fostering 79 children. She and her husband played Hawaiian music professionally and for enjoyment and were members of the Aloha International Steel Guitar Club, HSGA and the music group, Coral Islanders with the Maui Maidens. Bernice was a member of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Roseville.
Please visit the funeral home website here www.haussfamilyfuneralhomes.com to view the complete obituary including funeral arrangements and sign the guest book. Thank you all for your love and encouragement.
Doris Annie Ufton
HSGA Loses a Dear Friend,
Doris Annie Ufton, long time HSGA friend and mother of member Ian Ufton of Ontario, passed away on Sunday, February 21st, 2010. She was loved by all who knew her. The Joliet HSGA convention was one of her favorite “things to do.”
“On Sunday, February 21st, my mother, Doris Annie Ufton passed away after a brief illness, leaving behind a husband of 70 years, 2 sons, 4 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren who miss her dearly.
The Joliet conventions were very special events for her — she enjoyed the times she spent with the many friends she had made over the years — thank you all so much for remembering her with kind words and warm thoughts — she was such a special person.”
Sincerely, Ian Ufton