Robert O. Washington

In Kirkland, WA, on March 20th, 2011, one day shy of his 89th birthday, “Sir Bob-O” left thisworld to join the very large Jazz ensemble in a better place, joining his friends andheroes, “Satchmo”, “Duke”, “Count”, “Hamp”, “Pres”, “Bird”, and many others after a brave,lengthy battle with heart and lung ailments. Known and revered as a robustly talented andtireless organizer, leader, and participant in the arts and civic affairs for over fifty years, Bobenriched the soul of all who were fortunate enough to be in his presence. Born in the Bronx, NY,into a family which excelled in the performing arts, he was introduced to and forever influencedby America’s original musical art form, Jazz, during his school years there when he learned andperformed on the trumpet. He served in the Army during World war II, and later worked for theVeterans Administration and U. S. Postal Service. Soon after, (1946), he married his belovedwife Helen , moved to Long Island and was a civic leader and organizer for the Office ofEconomic Opportunity (OEO) in the newly established “Interracial” community of Wyandanch.During this period, he founded the local Kiwanis Club Chapter, and hosted a Jazz RadioShow, “The Grooveyard”, using the sobriquet, “Sir Bob-O, The Swingin’ Knight of TheTurntable”. Bob and Helen raised two children, Howard and Valerie, and in 1980, moved to St.Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. They immediately became leaders in the civic and arts activities therewhile Bob rejoined the U.S. Postal service. In 1989, their home and the island were devastatedby hurricane Hugo, leading to their relocation to The Villages. They soon began activeparticipation in the arts here: Helen became a stalwart and prize garnering member of the ArtLeague, and was active in stage productions as a cast member and production assistant. Bobfounded the Drama Club, (He wrote, and directed several productions), the African-AmericanClub and the Jazz Lovers’ Club (JLC) during his first three years in The Villages. “TheGrooveyard” was reborn as a series of tape, and later CD compilations that were distributed andcoveted by Jazz fans all over the globe. He remained President of 750 member JLC, whoseregular meetings featured live concerts by the finest local musicians, as well as videos ofhistorical performances by Jazz masters, until his passing. Helen died in 2004, and their sonHoward in 2000. Bob endured a series of medical setbacks in 2009 that resulted in his relocationto an assisted living facility near Seattle, WA in August of that year. In 2010, The Jazz Lovers’Club established The (Annual) Bob Washington Jazz Scholarship Program, providing financialassistance to deserving young musicians desiring to further their education in Jazz studies. TheJLC has been joined by The More Jazz Club of The Villages to further this endeavor. He issurvived by Daughter Valerie (Henry), (Kirkland WA), and sister Shirley Codrington,(Alpharetta, GA). A” Celebration of life” will be announced at a future date. Contributions in hisname may be sent to: The Bob Washington Jazz Scholarship Committee, c/o Charles Gray, 1415Carrillo St., The Villages, FL 32162-0219.

One Response to “Robert O. Washington”

  • RC Stilwell says:

    My deepest condolences to Bobs family and friends.
    He used to send me CDs of his Grooveyard shows, and I learned so much from him about jazz, and his style of being a jazz DJ. A wonderful, enriching experience for me and I am blessed to have his influence in my life.
    RC Stilwell

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