Sound send-off for Tuba Man
Musical instruments provided a lyrical backdrop for a memorial service honoring Ed "Tuba Man" McMichael, who died Nov. 3 after injuries sustained in a beating.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Tuba Man memorial, fund
Public memorial: Starts at 6:30 p.m. (doors open 5:30 p.m.) Wednesday, Qwest Field Event Center, 800 Occidental Ave S., Seattle. Free. The wearing of funny hats in tribute to Ed McMichael is encouraged. More information: www.robinandmaynard.com
Memorial fund: The fund would pay for McMichael's plot, grave marker and funeral expenses, with any remainder going toward remembrances to be determined by the family. Donations can be made to the Edward "Tuba Man" McMichael Memorial Fund, in person at any Bank of America branch, or by sending a check to the fund at P.O. Box 4985, Federal Way, WA 98063.
From the trumpeters to the banjo player; from a piano teacher to an online publisher; from an 8-year-old boy to a 66-year-old woman, about 150 people gathered Saturday morning at Seattle Center for an informal musical memorial to the Tuba Man.
They shared their grief over the death of Ed McMichael, 53, who had played his tuba for decades outside Seattle sports and musical events.
But more importantly, they shared stories of the joy McMichael had brought them with his tunes, his generous grin, and the greetings he called out in a voice as deep and booming as his musical instrument.
Eight-year-old Sage Quiggle, of Redmond, remembered that every time Tuba Man saw him on the way to Thunderbirds or Mariners games, McMichael would call out: "Hiiiiiii, Saaaaaaggggge."
"I felt so sad and touched by his loss," said Seattle trumpeter Ian Newhall, who organized Saturday's memorial after reading a story about how McMichael died last week, about nine days after he was kicked and beaten near a bus stop in lower Queen Anne. Police have arrested three 15-year-olds in connection with the assault.
"I had to do something, and that's what I do: play music," Newhall said.
The memorial attracted about two dozen musicians playing tubas, French horns, violins, cellos and other instruments. In front of McCaw Hall, they played "Tequila" and "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."
As a lone trumpeter began playing the sad, slow notes of "Taps," heads bowed. Then, as the last mournful notes faded, the full band struck up the jazzy notes of "When the Saints Go Marching In," and the crowd laughed.
The tune accompanied the crowd as it walked toward a site by the International Fountain where for years there has been a paver dedicated to the Tuba Man.
"Thank you everyone for all the tips," the paver says. "The money always paid the bills, reduced the debts and fed the Tuba Man. Edward Scott McMichael."
Stephanie Moe Quiggle, 39, an online publisher from Redmond, recounted how McMichael showed her and her family the paver a few years ago as they were on their way to a hockey game at KeyArena.
"He was so proud, really excited" about it, said Quiggle, who had laid a bouquet and small pumpkin by the paver.
"It was so dreadfully tragic what happened to him," she said. "I just wanted to join with other people to embrace his spirit and his joy; focus on and celebrate his life."
Louise Hohbach, 66, wore a jaunty St. Patrick's Day hat with a bobbing shamrock in honor of McMichael, who wore an assortment of outrageous, colorful hats.
"Even when I was in a bad mood, after I stopped and talked to him, I'd be in a good mood," said Hohbach, a KeyArena ticket scanner.
McMichael's former piano teacher, Penny McLeod Degraff, of Brier, recalled how decades ago, the teenage McMichael would proudly play Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" on the tuba for her.
More recently, whenever he saw her on the way to a musical or sporting event, he would call out: "Heeeeey, Penny McLeod, my former piano teacher!" and start playing "The Rite of Spring."
McMichael, who used to play with orchestras, would learn which pieces were on the program that night when he played outside symphony or opera halls, McLeod said. Then he would either play pieces from the program or something else by the featured composer.
Chris Siler, 38, of Bellevue, came Saturday carrying a sign saying: "God Bless Tuba Man. You Will Be Missed."
It always cheered him to call out a greeting to Tuba Man on his way to Mariners games.
"I can't imagine — next spring, I'll walk to Safeco Field, by where Tuba Man used to play, and he won't be there," Siler said. "I'm hoping someone will take up the torch."
Janet I. Tu: 206-464-2272 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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