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Frank Sumares
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July 06, 2014
Dear Donna,
I learned of Frank's passing from going through some unread Chabot College Retirees newsletters. I am so very sad and sorry that you lost that wonderful man. He was indeed a jazz musician extraordinaire, and Allan and I were so blessed to have him play at our wedding party at the Taylor Family's home in Lafayette, back in September, 1994. Don't know if you remember, but you were there by his side.
Allan and Frank had offices across from one another in the Humanities/Philosophy Department at Chabot, and I know Allan loved having Frank so close; they were always bantering back and forth, talking jazz and cracking each other up. Together we loved hearing him plan and attended several of his venues. We now share a common sadness in that I just lost my beloved husband, Allan Reiff, on June 7, 2014. He was diagnosed with dementia in 2004, shortly after he retired, and battled the disease with great courage and dignity for the last 10 years. He never stopped finding some joy in each day. I miss him so, and I know you must still grieve for the life you shared with Frank. I think of you and wish you all the best.
Michaele O'Leary-Reiff
January 05, 2014


Dear Donna and Lisa,

I just learned of Frank's passing. I'm so sorry for your loss. It's been many years since I've seen him;  but I can remember Frank as a complete jazz resource, a great hang and just plain funny as hell.
My earliest memory of Frank is from the late 1970's at LaHonda Music Camp teaching jazz theory. From there, I enrolled in various jazz ensembles at Cal State Hayward and Chabot College where Frank was the band leader.        He was a great director - seemingly tireless and always teaching.
Clearly, his passion was jazz; both instructing and playing. With his career spanning decades, he's probably touched the lives of thousands...
Not bad for a kid from Hayward. Rest easy, Frank.

With sincere condolences,

Doug Falkowski
November 24, 2013
A former teacher of mine at Chabot College and then at SJSU, Professor Frank Sumares was nothing short of amazing. A tremendous talent, the music he made will continue to resonate and impact hearts through the love of music. Peace and love.
October 14, 2013
Feliz Aniversario para voce com amor Francisco!
October 14, 2013
Happy Birthday to my Beloved Husband on this date 74 years ago you were born and I was fortunate to have been able to be a part of your magnificent life for the last 50 years. I love you with all my being and will forever. Please greet me on the other side someday. Your ever loving wife, Donna Lee
September 20, 2013
I posted an audio link of Frank conducting for Ledisi with Count Basie Orchestra.I did not know he had passed until I tried today.I admired him as a musician and a great person.I will always dig the memories of that time!Peace and Love
August 07, 2013
I met Frank under unusual circumstances in a pit. I was new to the area and he was welcoming, incredibly talented as a director in any genre, great friend and had such a way of finding someone's talents and bringing them out. If you could see the ripples Frank made in this world...He made a tremendous impact on my life the few short years our circles overlapped. Thing is, not one thought comes to mind of him where he's not smiling or laughing. He exemplified why we're here. They say you take the love with you. Love you forever, Frank!
June 17, 2013
My Dearest Husband, it was a very lonely Father's Day without you. Your "boys" and I visited your tree. It is so lovely to see it and know how much you were appreciated by the City of Hayward. I Love You, Mr, Frank Sumares.
June 16, 2013
You are loved and missed especially today..Happy Father's Day Dad.
June 11, 2013
Frank was my Jazz instructor at Chabot College from 1983-85. He will definitely be missed. RIP Frank.
June 11, 2013
Frank was such an amazing musician and teacher! So much positive energy! And so much fun at La Honda!!
May 20, 2013
To the Family of Frank Sumares , Donna, Lisa marie, shella and Kathey ,My Condolences to All of you, May GOD be with you All During This Difficult Time, Because I had the same moment when I lost my mom on may 10 of 2007 Again GOD be with you all.
May 17, 2013
Our family was shocked and sadden by the death of a wonderful man. Frank was my teacher and a friend. He taught me not so much in a hurry. Stop and smell the roses. 510-695-7680 Wendy McDowell Lisa please call me Luv Ya
May 17, 2013
Had him for my jazz class last semester at San Jose State University. Despite the class being early in the morning, I always enjoyed coming, made learning jazz fun and entertaining. Always remained happy, and had a positive attitude with a keen sense of humor. Will miss him!
May 13, 2013
I first met Frank while he was a judge at a jazz festival competition and I was a senior playing lead alto for the Berkely High Jazz Ensemble under the direction of the late Phil Hardymon (another great mentor), and I can recall all the positive and complimentary comments Frank gave me regarding my playing and tone.He told me that if I was not planning to go study music at a school back east somewhere that he would love to have me come to Cal State Hayward where he was teaching. Well, I ended up going to Cal State Hayward and playing in the Jazz, Combo and Symphonic bands. I learned a lot from Frank and appreciated his recruiting efforts. I eventually finished Cal State Hayward with a masters in Public Administration, but I somehow managed to always take a music class. Franks legacy will truly live on as he had such a profound impact on several peoples lives. Rest peacefully Frank, you will always be missed.
April 25, 2013
Frank, I ran into you at Stanford about 2000. You taught me so much (demanding as well as encouraging) in the years that followed. I am not sure how aware you were of how much you gave to me, both the art and the science. And what an intrinsically nice guy you were. You advanced my musical life, and I sing your praises and remember you often for it. Rest with the angels, and play for them eternally.
April 21, 2013
Dear Donna, Lisa and family, I was deeply saddened to learn about Frank today while speaking to Eric Patience. My deepest heartfelt condolences to all of you and to the thousands of others whose lives this wonderful man touched. I'm truly grateful and honored to be one of them.
I heard about the legendary Frank Sumares from many people before I actually studied with him. It was at Chabot College in Hayward in the early 1980's that our paths crossed. I played in the Jazz band, Orchestra, Jazz Improvisation and also attended his jazz piano class. (By the way, I'm a drummer)
He amazed me with his intensity, passion and joyously generous heart. He encouraged me when I wanted to throw in the towel and inspired me to believe in myself more than anyone I've known in my entire life. He taught me the importance of working tirelessly and had an uncompromising work ethic that was displayed in his dedication to his students, friends and family.
We played many gigs together and laughed uncontrollably on many occasions. What a funny guy, to say the least. His sense of humor was infectious. He also always humbled me with his humanity and his love for his wife and family. I distinctly remember riding with him to a gig to play the Gilroy Garlic Festival and discussing heady topics such as God, Family and Love.
When I would describe how he played to my friends or fellow musicians, I would say, "it's like Bill Evans meets McCoy Tyner meets Wynton Kelly." This cat could swing like there was no tomorrow, but the beautiful voicings he used impressed me more than anything else. He was truly a brilliant musician that could talk the talk and walk the walk. The only difference is that he included me or anyone else into that realm of greatness and made me feel welcomed. I will never forget how much he pushed me and made me improve as a musician time after time.
I ran into Frank a few years ago at SJSU and we picked up where we left off. I have so many wonderful memories with him and I will truly miss him.
To Donna, Lisa and the entire family, may God strengthen you with his grace and provide comfort during this very difficult time. My thoughts and prayers will be with you throughout the days ahead.

With Heartfelt Love and Sympathy
April 17, 2013
Many, many wonderful memories...rest in peace, friend.
April 13, 2013
Frank believed in me long before I believed in myself as a musician. I'm still getting there. Frank showed me that hard work and passion can get you where you need to be as a player and a human being. He was always so generous with his knowledge and time. His spirit will live on through the lives and music of the thousands of students he taught and inspired. Thank You from the bottom of my heart Frank.
April 10, 2013
I have loved you since meeting you in December 1962. You were a unique loving and caring person even before we were married on May 10, 1963. We have an amazing daughter, Lisamarie that I can look at and see you through her. She has your wit and humor. I bless the day we decided to marry as we had become inseparable after a couple of month and felt we wanted to spend our lives together through thick and thin. We made it Darling. I miss you more than words can say and you have always known that for all the years. RIP my Darling Husband until we meet again.
April 08, 2013
I'll miss you more than you'll ever know. I'm grateful beyond words that we were able to share some love last week. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing the most amazing music ever, as it now and will forever feed my soul. I've been comforted by the many stories from students, musicians, and colleagues. I will remain one of your biggest fans. Your passion for Jazz, drive for mentoring, work ethic, and impeccable ear for amazing chord progressions lives in me. I say this because I'm your daughter, but I believe some of your best performances were when you played your heart out at home. Knowing your memory will carry on for generations to come through the countless people you mentored brings me such peace, the most profound feeling of peace. Till we meet again.
Love you Dad,
Lisamarie Sumares
April 07, 2013
Frank was a jazz giant and great guy. I got to know him through my son Ben. He was and continues to be a major influence in Ben's playing and that of many, many others. We'll miss you Frank!!
April 07, 2013
I haven't had many mentors in life, but Frank was certainly the first. Fortunately for me, he was also a friend, and at times, a father. I'll never forget you Frank, nor the impact you've had on my life, musically and beyond. It's hard to imagine life without you being a phone call away when I have a question or need guidance, but I and many others will have to adjust. Thank you for being such a huge part of my life these past 37+ years. You will never be forgotten.
April 07, 2013
In the best possible way, you de-mysified basic jazz piano voicings for me forever! Thanks for your patience, from one music teacher to another! I'll miss your spirit at Jazz Camp this summer, but your grooves will live on!
April 07, 2013
frank was and always will be a god in the music world. Miss you much Unka Funk.
April 07, 2013
Frank was one of the truly great mentors of my musical or otherwise life to date. Starting in high school in Pleasanton having him as a clinician and judge for us in jazz band and continuing to working with him in the night band and as a student at Chabot College. He was the consummate hip cat and a great teacher. He taught much more than just the just the syllabus. He was a model of how to be a professional musician, teacher, seeker of knowledge and friend to many. I know that I am not alone in this level of influence. There are many that share my feeling of pride that I was and am a student of his. His door was always open. His wit was always sharp and his love and dedication to his students and his art was boundless. I will, and will always be glad that I knew and that I was influenced by him. Godspeed, Unka Funk!
April 07, 2013
I was lucky to have known Frank at different stages in my life.
A high school student, a chabot college music major and as a 35 year old returning to music after a 15 year music hiatus.
His message and passion could prod, push and inspire me during all times of my life.
Thanks for everything Frank, especially for giving me venue for my passion.
Arigato Gasmaskus....
April 07, 2013
I miss you, Frank. I will never forget hearing you play just a month or so before you passed. You were swingin' and burnin'! Donna, Bless you for taking such good care of this man, who despite incredible pain, kept smiling his whole life. RIP Frank
April 05, 2013
I love you Frank, but won't miss you because you have been and always will be are a part of my life.
April 05, 2013
One of my favorite teachers....such a great spirit. Rest peacefully, my friend.
April 05, 2013
I studied improvisation for two semesters with Frank at SJSU and I just learned of his passing this morning. He was an inspirational and truly funny person and on top of that gave me the confidence to learn a smattering of the mechanics of his chordal theories and then perform them in class. I owe him a lot and will be reminded of him every time I improvise for my own creative pleasure in the future. Thank you Frank, so very much.
April 05, 2013
Frank was a very talented musician who has inspired and encouraged many people in the music industry. He was a great friend and will be greatly missed. My prayers go out to the family. God Bless You.
April 04, 2013
Frank was an amazing man! I was an English major at Cal State Hayward back in 1980, but had studied music - violin, flute, and voice - since I was very young. Because I had a passion for jazz and big band music, I got to know Frank by taking his jazz history and jazz piano classes just for my own enrichment. When he heard me singing in a practice room one day, he came in and asked "why aren't you a music major?" to which I replied "because I have stage fright", His response to that was "BULL----! You NEED to be a music major!" I will NEVER forget that. I took those words to heart and quickly changed my major to music. Because of Frank just being Frank, I went farther in my musical education than I ever thought I could - earning both my BA and MA in music, and even entertained the thought of going for a DMA - I still might. Frank was the hippest,most gifted,most amazingly talented and funniest man I ever knew, and I will miss him dearly. I was blown away when I ran into him last year at Stanford (after 32 years!)Many years had gone by but we talked and laughed like I had just seen him the day before. But that was Frank - no pretense, always hip and up-beat, always kind and encouraging and geniune and forever hilarious! There will NEVER be another Frank Sumares. Frank - "Here's to Life, Here's to Love, Here's to You!" Sleep warm my friend until we all meet again at the big jam session in the sky....Lots of love, Karen
April 04, 2013
I had the pleasure of playing trumpet in the Chabot Jazz Band from 1986 - 1988. Frank's knowledge of music was seemingly limitless and he had an uncanny ability to coax the best performances from our group of knuckleheads. In addition, he was truly hilarious. A warm, generous spirit. RIP, Frank.
April 03, 2013
Frank took me as an uneducated drummer and made a musician out of me. He inspired me to teach high school and showed me how to engage young people with humor and passion.
April 03, 2013
As his obituary states, Frank has left a "lasting legacy through music." I don't know his family, but I send my deepest condolences to all of you in your time of loss.

Frank judged my oldest son's middle school jazz combo at their first CMEA in 2002. Years later as a high school combo, they fondly referred to Frank as "that judge at CMEA with the big gold rings that taught our keyboard player how to comp Killer Joe."

Later, my daughter had him at SJ Jazz Camp at SJSU when she was in Middle School. One day, he told the class that they were going to have a guest conductor and that he had an autographed picture of him to show. After much begging, he showed them a picture of this grinning monkey--and everyone laughed. Our daughter begged him for the picture and he gave it to her after class. She put her "prized photo" up in her front bedroom window and it has remained there for the last 7 years (through middle school, high school, and two years of college!) Last month, a toddler and his mother were passing by our house on their regular evening walk. The toddler pointed at the picture and exclaimed to his mother, "Look, we're at the monkey house!" I wish I could have told Frank that story!

Frank's talent and spirit have touched and inspired many lives and, I am sure, he will be greatly missed by his family and friends. I am humbled and grateful that he made such a positive contribution to my children's lives and the lives of countless other musicians. RIP Frank.
April 03, 2013
Frank was an inspiration to me while I was a student at Chabot. I remember trading Cabbage Patch kids for his grandkids in exchange for Jazz albums. I'll always remember the lessons he taught me. RIP Frank.
April 03, 2013
Frank, You were the greatest mentor and my son Alex and I learned so much about jazz voicings and repertoire from you. Your imprint will remain in my heart forever. As many have said, you were and will remain the coolest cat around! Warmly, Paul
April 03, 2013
Frank inspired me in so many ways. He was an expert: musician and teacher. But even more important, he was a great person. I am truly saddened to hear of his passing. Frank, I would have never reached my potential as a musician or teacher without your guidance. I send my love to you and all you have touched throughout your incredible life. Rest in Paradise!
April 03, 2013
Gone too soon my friend , gone way too soon for me
I love you and will miss you dearly.
April 03, 2013
Frank was like a 2nd father to me, he taught much more than music to his students. His ability to get the most from his students performance and take that lesson to the everyday world is what Frank did for me. There is rarely a day where I don't use something Frank taught me. My life is better simply because I know Frank Sumarez.
April 03, 2013
The first time I met Frank was at the Stanford workshop. I made the mistake of enrolling in a class that was over my head and I spent a terrifying hour trying to follow his hieroglyphics on the board. Afterward,he kindly encouraged me to take a lower level class, which turned out to be an inspirational experience. I went on to take two other classes with him and had hoped to take more. A brilliant musician and great teacher, he had a wicked sense of humor and a very big heart. I will never forget his generous spirit with which he shared the gift of music with we lesser mortals. It was so sweet to hear his frequent references to his wife, who he credited with being the brains in their marriage! I miss you, Frank.
April 03, 2013
Those we love don't go away,
They walk beside us every day,
Unseen, unheard, but always near,
Still loved, still missed and very dear.
- Anonymous

You are missed and loved Frank. Your life affected so many others...
April 03, 2013
Frank, I shall miss seeing you work with the students at all the jazz festivals you always seemed to be working at.... thanks for all the care and love you always shared with kids you hardly even knew. RIP, my friend.
April 03, 2013
I will always remember you Frank. Your teachings will continue on. I'm passing along what you taught me to my children. Thank you so much for helping me be me. You were the coolest cat I ever met. When I'm with friends and some of your former students we all are with gratitude of what you have shown us in life and music. I'll see you at the Jam Session up above. Love you.
April 03, 2013
I'll miss you more than you'll ever know. I'm grateful beyond words that we were able to share some love last week. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing the most amazing music ever, as it now and will forever feed my soul. I've been comforted by the many stories from students, musicians, and colleagues. I will remain one of your biggest fans. Your passion for Jazz, drive for mentoring, work ethic, and impeccable ear for amazing chord progressions lives in me. I say this because I'm your daughter, but I believe some of your best performances were when you played your heart out at home. Knowing your memory will carry on for generations to come through the countless people you mentored brings me such peace, the most profound feeling of peace. Till we meet again. Play your a** off Dad !!
Love you, Lisamarie
April 02, 2013
Frank, Your awesome teaching at Chabot brought my son Steve to your jazz class. He learned of your passing, even tho' he resides in Nashville. He sends his love and respect for your great skills.
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