Monday, October 13, 2008

Blues for Gene Solon

Hartford, CT

Gene Solon passed away on October sixth.

I met Gene when I first moved to Hartford. We ran into each other where one could often find Gene, up front at a concert, digging the sounds and issuing commentary. Gene did with me what he did with many of us - quickly got to work weaving connections between me and people that I “just had to meet.”

Gene turned me on to much over the years. In Hartford, he mentored me by bringing me on board as a grant panelist at the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, where he worked. Much of what I know today about grant writing came through that ten year experience. Gene was part of something we have lost at the Commission, where he was part of a group of arts administrators, many of whom were either artists themselves or might as well have been, who were so passionate about the arts and those who created and presented it (Betsy Mahaffey comes to mind!).

Gene’s sensibilities and manner of inhabiting the world, personally and professionally, were infused by a deep and abiding love of family. He raised three children as a single parent. As his son Kendall put it, “my father was good for people.” Gene was certainly good for me.

I love you, Gene. I really miss you!

Image of Gene Solon by Sanda Schuldmann


sandatucson said...

Stephen, you write so beautifully, and eloquently. A tough act to follow, but I will try.

Stephen, you are so "right on the money."

Yes, Gene was good for people.

I met Gene while applying for a grant, in 1976 when American music was the rage because of the bucentenial.

We were asking for support to record the David Diamond Sonata, a master piece, that was yet to be recorded at that point, or recorded since.
Gene worked hard to convince the people that this had merit and it was an important piece to document.

Ever since, we remained close friends. We got even closer when we moved to Tucson. We shared many joyful times together ( his 80th birthday party that Jessica organized, Max's Bar Mitzvah, and many difficult times. Losing Jessica,his beloved daughter, losing my wonderful Mother In Law are such times that come to mind. Gene came to every concert we did here in Tucson and always gave an admirable critique.

What I will miss most by his absence here on Earth, is that I would have to imagine what Gene would say.

Gene was a true and trusted friend. He always told the truth as he saw it. The fact that he loved you, did not diminish his objectivity and honesty.

If we did not speak in a few days he would call and say: " I was thinking about you. Every thing OK?"

His departure, marks the end of an era.

Gene, you will forever live in my heart. I love you Gene.

Sanda in Tucson, AZ

Anonymous said...

Nicely written, both.

Gene was a true friend of artists. He appreciated the work that goes into creativity, and he loved the people who are drawn into creative circles.

Always supportive. One thing i remember about working with Gene is that he always seemed to forgive me and forget about it when i said something that maybe i should have thought about first.

He was a kind and generous presence.

We've been missing you in Hartford, Gene. Now we miss you more.

Will K. Wilkins

Sholo Moto said...

Gene and I shared a love for Jazz, Jewish food and culture, politics, and a unique connection.

Marty Khan first introduced me to Gene and the first time we met, he knew who I was from Hartford. In fact, his mother knew my grandfather. They were both Communists in the 1930s, and Gene gave me a photo of the two of them in group where they sung (probably the Internationale).

People like Gene don't come 'round often in this life, and his passing makes me painfully aware just how special he was.

Elizabeth Mahaffey said...


Gene will stay alive for us for a long time. He almost always brought a smile to my face, and I could use a smile right now while I'm waiting to have a hip replacement!