Amherst Magazine

Alan C. Webber ’49

Alan C. Webber ’49 died April 13, 2011.
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ALAN C. WEBBER ’49  

Friend and classmate Al Webber’s book of life was gently closed on April 13, 2011, at home while practicing his trombone for the regular session that evening at the Kings Court Tavern in Leesburg, Va. It is how many of us will remember him—for the great contribution of his music, primal in this eventful life, which included the Purple Heart for a serious wounding in the hedgerows of Normandy, D-Day, plus five degrees from Taft, Amherst and Oxford. He was assistant editor at Chilton Publishing Co., managing editor of the NRA’s American Rifleman magazine and, at the time of his death, senior copy editor at the Weider History Group.

            But also important, he founded three “world-class” Dixieland bands that I know about: The Good Time Six in Pennsylvania, The Federal Jazz Commission in Washington, D.C., (they played at the White House) and The Arcadians in Leesburg, Va. Al also founded the Potomac River Jazz Club with a membership today of more than 2,000.

            His funeral held April 30 at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Purcellville, Va., was unlike any we had ever seen. Firstly, it was mobbed—easily more than a hundred people. The band, up front in between the ceremonials, played “When the Saints Go Marching In,” a lively form of “Amazing Grace” and “Just A Closer Walk With Thee”—absolutely and gloriously beautiful music, the last of its kind in this country.

            And Alan was one of a kind as well, just with his articulation of the English language way beyond the abilities of most of us. We say farewell to this good friend and life of great consequence. He leaves behind his loving widow, Marianna; his beloved children, Russell and Jennifer; his sister, Sydney; and close cousins in England. Joyce, mother of Russell and Jennifer, predeceased him.

—Peter Talbot ’49

 

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