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September 18, 2014
I started to learn the ukulele a few years ago. I'm currently writing a speech for one of my college courses and came across John's research and history. I watched a few of John's videos of him playing. Thanks to you John, I have learned so much more about this amazing instrument. Best wishes to the family! He's still helping many.
August 11, 2014
I am new to the ukulele and was so delighted to see what this little island instrument is capable of. It is truley an expressive instrument worthy of a serious place in all types of music. Thanks to you John King. What a loss your passing is to the music community. I can't say enough about how much your playing has inspired me. You have demonstrated the sensitivity,beauty, and soul of this wonderful instrument and opened my eyes to its possibilities. Thank you so much! You have left a wonderful mark in this world. God Bless!
March 13, 2014
All of these years later, you are still teaching the masses about this life and world changing instrument. Thank you for being one of the many to pave the way.
February 27, 2010
John was and will always be the premiere historian and ethnologist of the 'ukulele and all its cousins, and one of the finest musicians ever, in all categories, not just "classical on uke." We miss him.
February 24, 2010
I just learned of Johns death and I feel like someone just knocked the wind out of me. He was a true gem and the ukulele world will not be the same without him. Aside from his amazing talent, no one has researched and shared more detailed historical information about the uke as he has. He was a true historian as well as musicians musician.
All my sympathy and support goes out to his widow and family members. John King's legacy will live on forever.
Ginny Oman, Arizona.
November 02, 2009
I have just learned of John's passing, and , my heart goes out to his family. I will keep you all in my prayers.
Where do I start,other than to say " I'm sorry ". My name is Jim Williams and I was fortunate enough to have John as a good friend in Va. Beach during & after my high school years.We had an apartment together for awhile.I can't begin to express how great it was to listen to John play his guitars,piano,and any other instrument he could get his hands on. He often taught me a song on guitar and we would " jam " long into the night. As Horace Summerlin stated in his entry, John and I formed a band, ( 2 man ), but I moved away some time after that and we lost track of each other. Time goes by so fast!!!I have been lucky enough to perform and record with some musicians that have made a name for themselves, but, NONE of these musicians had a thimble-full of the talent that John was blessed with. John made the world a better place just being around. Some of My favorite memories are of John and I playing "Statesborough Blues","Rocky Rackoon",and John's rendition of "Black Bird". The world will dearly miss you John,and your music. God Bless,
May 13, 2009
I am shocked and grieved to have lost a friend I barely knew, but who had become a startlingly large part of my life. Yesterday, when I learned online of John King's passing, I was carrying a particularly challenging passage of his music in my pocket: I had shined on learning the last runs of Chopsticks--the runs that go up the neck really fast and hard, they're very "classical guitar" and it had been enough to learn the easier parts of the piece, but let that one wait. Well this week began, and I had stalled in learning any new pieces, so I specially photocopied that particular passage, and was carrying it around so that when life got boring, I could pull it out and play the music in my head, and imagine the fingering, and...this is how I learn, does this sound familiar to any of you solo amateurs out there?..and all the while thinking of John KIng, his staid image(albeit in a Hawaiian shirt!) on Youtube soberly playing the piece with virtuoso musicianship, and I suppose the last several months because this is the way I study I had been thinking of John a good bit--a lot really. Just like when I studied Blind Boy Fuller years ago I thought about him when my mind was at rest, and his music would come into my head, John KIng's music was a gift from God, he was the instrument and he knew it, and that's what's so enchanting about a musical genius like he was. I e-mailed him a few times, he did me the courtesy of sending me a few tabs that were otherwise unavailable, and was very personal and courteous in his replies. I was star struck! I started to refer to myself in my e-mails as "Your Student in Pittsburgh." Now I always will be. Frozen in time. John King was an American original. I agree with Jim Beloff, another Uke God I am star-struck with. There won't be anyone else like him for a very long time. John King was the Andres Segovia of the Ukulele. He's playing with the angels.
May 01, 2009
On March 19th I sent an email to John. It was more of a rambling than an actual message. I had a "fatal error" and the email disappeared. I quickly retorted fairpoint communications by sending him another message to the effect of : "Just spent a half hour emailing you about how much I miss you and think of you and what an awesome father you are...but you will have to wait until Father's day to read the details." John replied that he was sorry I was having a "Zooy" night at work and he loved me. I will attempt to recreate the email that maybe exists somewhere in cyberspace, but not anywhere on my hard drive...
Dear John,
I have been thinking a lot about you lately. Mainly because our new dinnertime activity has been telling stories about when I was a kid...I apologize to you now, because I had no idea how bothersome it was to tell the same stories over and over again like you used to do when I was little. Here are the stories I loved to hear: The time when you threw a hoe at Uncle Paul and hit him in the heal. The time Uncle Paul got attacked by a man-o-war, the goonie birds, surfing with sharks...Here are the stories I like to tell: going to the Kelly Mart to buy bags of penny candy and eating it all while watching the Three Stooges before Mom got home... the prism you got me when I was 5 and I mistakenly closed all the curtains to try and make it work...the painting you did of me...egg noodles with butter and hot dogs...getting stuck in the Banyon tree at Main Sail...hunting butterflies, bamboo kites...the 1969 Dodge
Polara with the broken window... hot chocolate and meteor showers in the middle of the night...homemade Christmas...endlessly searching the thrift stores...Fraidy Cat and the can of tuna... Krazy Cat when he died and the neighbors thought you buried me in the backyard...Movies in the summer because you loved the airconditioning ... Twinkle Twinkle variations (you must remember to keep your fingers just behind the fret and your thumb behind the neck.) "We Three Kings of Tall-A-Hassee!"...The Ghost of Scott Joplin (as evidence by Scott toilet paper rolling down the stairs at my 12th birthday slumber party...I tell lots of stories, but what I realized was that lots of "big" things have happened to me in my life but it is the small moments that have made me who I am. You have been there for all of those moments. I could never thank you enough for that. I love you and I miss you very much. Love- Your "work in progress", Amy
I know that most of you reading this knew John professionally or artistically. But he was also an awesome father. I loved him so much and I think that maybe the world is a little bit darker without him.
April 28, 2009
I've just now learned of John's passing after coming out of a long hospital stay of my own, which began just a few days after his death. Struggling to heal and filled with thoughts of mortality as I am these days, news of John's early and sudden death has left me stunned.

I knew John first through his writings--through his extraordinarily detailed, sometimes stupefyingly dry scholarship on ukulele luthiery patent history, head stocks, baroque playing techniques and tablature. It was the sort of scholarship that you knew was vitally important to the body of knowledge in the world, but that you were glad someone else was doing.

Later, John and I embarked on a heady, lengthy thread together at the bulletin board, sharing our mutual thoughts on the cultural dissemination of the ukulele into Western culture through time. John had his more measured, informed approach. I in turn had brash and imaginative, though not entirely off-base suppositions. And together, we carved an interesting exchange, which was mostly me going nuts with theories, and John patiently, but nonjudgmentally listening, then correcting my course with gentle facts.

What made this exchange most amazing is that I had made a fairly controversial documentary about post-punk and alternative ukulele bands on the mainland that offended a lot of ukulele traditionalists who were respectfully into the Hawaiian roots of the instrument. One would have thought John, dry and traditional and academic as he seemed to be in his writing, would have dismissed me outright, but that wasn't the case. Maybe to him, in his teacherly way, I was just another active mind, and he didn't see a reason to discourage my thoughts.

I finally met John in the flesh at the ukulele expos that were starting to pop up everywhere.

The first time I heard him play live, I found his stage persona not unlike his writing persona--very staid and unflashy. That being said, I can also say the first and only time I have ever wept at a ukulele concert--at the sheer beauty of the sounds coming forth--was listening to John play. I told him this afterward. He seemed surprised. I found this odd. Surely he had to know what an unbelievable master he was.

As I ran into him at more expos and chatted with him more, I came to understand his surprise better, I think--and to better understand his exchanges with me on the boards.

John was simply unassuming and unpretentious. There was his intellect and his artistry, and then there was John. For a man whose playing and writing seemed to be the essence of control, he was strangely galumphy and immaculate, it seemed to me. And for a man whose scholarship was so dry, he had a great appreciation of the comic and a self-deprecating humor. And he struck me as very kind.

What I finally concluded was that John wasn't a traditionalist at all. He was--and I mean this as the highest compliment I can offer--an eccentric. His application of baroque playing styles to the ukulele and his other ukulelic scholarly obsessions were acts of intellectual rebelliousness and free-spiritedness that stood head and shoulders above the rest.

Or maybe he was neither traditionalist or rebel. Maybe he was just the best of both worlds. Maybe he was just uniquely John King, a one-of-a-kind.

I don't mean to presume I knew him well. Others clearly knew him better and were close friends. This is just an account of my impressions of him, and what he taught me personally. Hopefully some of it will ring true to his friends.

Without John's gentle correction of my facts, this is the best I could do.

My thoughts go out to John and all who were close to him. He touched many people in small, but significant ways.
April 27, 2009
John King's contribution to ukulele and classical guitar cannot be measured. As a musician and an historian, his insights and abilities have inspired many.

On April 3, 2009, at the young age of fifty-five, John King passed away.

John taught classical guitar at the Eckerd College for thirty years. I can't imagine how many people he has influenced musically from that alone, but he also taught ukulele players in workshops at various events in far-flung places.

John had many friends in the world of ukulele. He performed at Ukulele Noir with Craig Robertson and he played with James Hill and countless others never trying to upstage anyone, yet towering above many.

I never had a chance to meet John face-to-face, but I know his work and many of his friends. I have viewed just about every video that I could find online and read his articles on ukulele history.

John King was a vast reservoir of knowledge of all things ukulele. He eagerly shared that knowledge and from what we know of the man, he never had an elitist attitude or put on a front, he didn't have to pretend.

If you spend some time watching John's videos on YouTube you will be amazed at his ability and his powers of concentration. He mastered classical guitar at a young age and he mastered ukulele. There is no doubt that he will be remembered as one of the all-time great players of ukulele.

Music sooths the soul, so it is said, and it stirs the soul as well. What is there for someone who has left loved ones behind. What solace is there... what comfort can one find?

When great musicians and composers leave this world, they leave behing a trail of notes, a river of musical expression. If you play those notes, perhaps for a time, you can share that journey, you can remember that artist and the path he walked.

The feet are gone, and we cannot fill his shoes, but we can follow his footsteps and still can feel his influence.

John King did have a big influence on many students, family members, and friends. He even had an influence on people that never knew him personally.

John King may no longer be with us, but we are with him. We still enjoy his music and his articles. We benefit from the things that he left us.

For those close to him, there is little comfort at this time, but later, perhaps, his music will give them something to remember and bring a smile to their faces.

My wife lost her mother very early last year. There are still some tearful moments when words don't come easy. It is those times when we try to remember all of the wonderful things we can and think of the time we shared.

John King spent a lifetime sharing music and knowledge with many. Let us never forget him and his contributions to the music world, not just ukulele but classical guitar, too. And let's not forget that many people can say that they called him friend. For John's friends and family, may all your memories be happy ones.

--- published in Ukulele Player
In Memory of John King
April 24, 2009
Thank you John for your inspirational musicianship.
April 24, 2009
Never met John but have been working in his Famous Solos for Ukulele book for about 3 years and am just getting into his Classical book. The CDs of John playing the selections is as much fun as working in the books. So sorry to hear of his death and my condolences to his family. What a legacy he has left us and what great ukulele music we can look forward to in the afterlife!
April 24, 2009
I had just started learning one of John's arrangements to play at the memorial service of my friend Mike when I learned of John's passing. I will be playing with both John and Mike in my heart at that service. John's work made a lasting difference in my life.
April 21, 2009
I am shocked and saddened by John King's passing. John was a friend and inspiration to all of us in the ukulele community. His Bach CD is a classic. He made the ukulele sound like a heavenly harp. He mastered the difficult sustaining style of campennela playing, which he researched and brought back to life. John and I sat at the same dinner table at the Uke Fest West and had a wonderful conversation about the early days of Hawaiian music and Ernest Kaai's strumming patterns. He and I also performed together at a few events. John was always a pleasure to hear. He was surprisingly humble and unassuming for someone with so much talent and knowledge. He was happy to play the music and preserve the wonderful heritage of the original Hawaiian ukulele.

John King will be missed, but his work and music will certainly live on…
April 17, 2009
My sympathies to John's family and friends. I've enjoyed watching John's incredible ukulele playing on Youtube as well as his instructional uke book.
April 16, 2009
Like everyone in the worldwide ukulele community we were stunned and saddened to hear of the passing of John King. Not only was John one of the premiere ukulele virtuosos in the world, he was the finest player when it came to the classical repertoire. He was also the preeminent ukulele historian and played a critical role in refining the text for the second edition of my book The Ukulele– A Visual History.

One of the most remarkable books Flea Market Music has published is John's classical ukulele songbook/CD he arranged for our masters series. It is a great example of how limitless the ukulele can be in the right hands.

I had the pleasure of spending time with John at various uke fests and events over the years and came to appreciate his keen intellect, aloha spirit and wonderful sense of humor. Aloha John from Jim & Liz Beloff and Phyllis and Dale Webb.
April 16, 2009
I corresponded with John which must have been a few days before his death. I was interested in his five-string ukulele that he had put up for sale on and asked him a few questions about the instrument. He was so generous in responding not only to my original questions but to those following the news that he had already sold the ukulele just minutes before I had written to him. I was struck then, as I was at the Portland Ukulele Festival, at what a generous person he was. Given his talent and his expertise on the ukulele, he really did not have to spend the kind and amounts of time he did with others who were much less talented and accomplished than he---but he always did! He was always so approachable and so generous in his art. Fortunately, before he died I was able to at least tell him of my appreciation for his talent when I wrote that whenever anyone denigrated the ukulele as a serious musical instrument, I always referred such skeptics to his playing. He was a giant in the ukulele world and will be remembered as long as that marvelous little but oh so expressive instrument remains a part of our musical culture.
April 14, 2009
April 14, 2009
I got to hang out with John a bit at the past two Portland Ukulele Festivals. He had an amazing facility to play classical music on the ukulele. He had such huge hands and stocky wrists! I was always amazed at how he could make those big, thick fingers of his fly up and down a narrow soprano fretboard with such commanding ease!

He had a very wry, and very dry, sense of humour. He was fun to be around. He was fond of telling people, with a sparkle in his eye, that he never, ever, changed strings on his ukuleles!

John taught me the proper way to wear a Hawaiian shirt. The secret is to first put on your newest T-shirt, and then don the Hawaiian shirt, leaving it unbuttoned and untucked. You see, you have to dress warm to look cool! It's a lesson I learned all too well. That's how I dress to busk 'eight days a week' now.

I never took a class with John at the PUF, but I was fully intending to take his 'Pulling Strings' class this year. Now it's too late, and I wasn't ready. I will have to settle for learning from his published charts.

What Child Is This?/Greensleeves was the first chord solo I ever learned. I found it on John's website one day, after PUF07.

I mentioned that I had learned this piece to John at PUF08, and that I next wanted to learn how to play his arrangement of Carol Of The Bells. He said to just start whittling away at it, and learn it in sections. COTB has proven to be the most daunting piece of music I've ever attempted! I knew it would be. I had hoped to have it worked up in time for last Christmas, but I only managed to get it 'roughed in.' Hopefully, I'll have it fully polished next Christmas.

I warmup with these pieces once a day, now. I've begun work on his chart for Tarantella Italiana. Playing and learning his music somehow helps me deal with my sense of loss. It's a loss that I know the global ukulele community is feeling.

It was our passion for this noble little instrument, the ukulele, that brought me in contact with this departed monarch of a musician.

I'm glad I knew John King. I'll miss him.

Jimmy Jackman
April 13, 2009
I was just getting up to debark from a plane in portland oregon last summer, to attend my father's funeral, when I saw a ukulele case being taken down from the overhead storage bin, and there was John King attached to it. I asked him if he was John, told him of how, as a beginning uke player, I admired his playing and we exchanged a few pleasantries about his participation in the portland uke fest. When he asked why I was there, I told him about my dad's passing and he then told me about playing for his dad's memorial. He was so kind and understanding about how hard it was in those situations to "perform" and it really helped me get through the next few days figuring out a way to talk about my own dad. I wish I could have attended the festival but just knowing he was playing and teaching there in that beautiful way he did made things easier. His gracious generous spirit is infused in that music and we are all the richer for it. My heartfelt condolences to his family.
April 13, 2009
I'm not sure if you remmeber me. I'm Horace Summerlin of Va. Beach. I grew up with John. Of all the people I came in contact with, John left the longest impression. I know I have not seen or spoken to him in many years but the time I did spend with him I knew he was well beyond all my thoughts I have had and will ever have. When we worked at the Honda shop as young men, he had thoughts of building and flying a self propelled airplane. I saw drawings and I knew he could have done it. about this time he formed a band with another friend Jim Williams, the rest is history. He played music like I would breathe air. I would make fun about playing music that didn't have words and at that time in our lives it was all about Rock and Roll or nothing. Joke on me... We were friends when friends meant something and I will miss him dearly. The guys would make fun of all his differant ways, he never said an ill word to or about them. I would tell him to stick up for himself and he would say "thats what I have you for" I could go on for hours but this is not the place or time. My thoughts are with you and your family. I hope I will have the prevledge to meet the girls someday. Here is my e-mail I would love to hear from you.. I will keep an eye on John's mother. Hope to see you again, you will be in my prayers...

April 12, 2009
This was originally submitted on 4-8-09 but did not go through.

To the Family of John King,

My name is Kathleen Elzey, I live in Elk Grove, California and have only known about John King’s music for 4 months. My cousin, Jean Caldicott, gave me John King’s "Royal Hawaiian Music" CD for Christmas. From the moment I first listened to it, I fell in love with his ukulele playing and the beauty of these precious songs...they sounded like an exquisite, heavenly music box. He played them with such reverence and soul...I was just knocked out. I wore out the CD the first 2 months I had it, it is one of a few favorites that I play regularly...I always hear something new with every listening.

I had seen some the original sheet music of these songs at a little museum in the Princess Kaiulani Hotel in Waikiki. I am fascinated by this era in Hawai’i, because my grandmother was born and lived there during this time. I even videotaped each piece of music in close up, hoping someday someone who can read music could play it for me. So, I was amazed to see, with a closer look at the liner notes, that he was playing these songs I had longed to hear!

My cousin even sent me a photo of John playing ukulele because I am now such a big’s been in our family album ever since. But this morning I received an e-mail from her telling me the tragic news about John’s death and his obituary. I have been stunned by this news today. I am so sorry you’ve lost your wonderful husband, father, son, brother and friend. I didn’t know him, but hoped one day to see him play...his music has moved me so very much. I’ve been playing his CD all morning on this very sad gray rainy day...thinking of him and all of you.

To the Family of John King,

My name is Kathleen Elzey, I live in Elk Grove, California and have only known about John King’s music for 4 months. My cousin, Jean Caldicott, gave me John King’s "Royal Hawaiian Music" CD for Christmas. From the moment I first listened to it, I fell in love with his ukulele playing and the beauty of these precious songs...they sounded like an exquisite, heavenly music box. He played them with such reverence and soul...I was just knocked out. I wore out the CD the first 2 months I had it, it is one of a few favorites that I play regularly...I always hear something new with every listening.

I had seen some the original sheet music of these songs at a little museum in the Princess Kaiulani Hotel in Waikiki. I am fascinated by this era in Hawai’i, because my grandmother was born and lived there during this time. I even videotaped each piece of music in close up, hoping someday someone who can read music could play it for me. So, I was amazed to see, with a closer look at the liner notes, that he was playing these songs I had longed to hear!

My cousin even sent me a photo of John playing ukulele because I am now such a big’s been in our family album ever since. But this morning I received an e-mail from her telling me the tragic news about John’s death and his obituary. I have been stunned by this news today. I am so sorry you’ve lost your wonderful husband, father, son, brother and friend. I didn’t know him, but hoped one day to see him play...his music has moved me so very much. I’ve been playing his CD all morning on this very sad gray rainy day...thinking of him and all of you.

April 11, 2009
While we never had an opportunity to become acquainted with John (or Paul), we know that being the son of Paul & Dolores, he had to have been a wonderful person. Paul Sr was my 3rd cousin, so we know the stock John came from, and the wonderful mother Dolores is, so John has to have been a great asset to the world and to all who knew him. As I recall, many years ago, we exchanged correspondence and I shared with him my then experience in the computer field and hope it was of some small help to him.

All in all, what we are trying to say is that our lives have been the poorer for not having John and his family in our direct experience, but then all things aren't always as we would have had them to be.

Dolores, Debi, Amy, Katie, Emma, and Paul, we want to assure you that our thoughts and prayers are with you for the healing of grief and for the handling of John's affairs. We know that your faith in God will sustain you and carry you through to your next level of experience.

We wish you enough good and love to fulfill your missions.
April 10, 2009
John was an inspiration, an awesome musician, and kind enough to respond in person to my e-mails on tabs and techniques. I'm sad that I didn't get to know him better. Rest in peace.
April 10, 2009
I heard about John’s death on Friday afternoon, the 3rd. Amy King had called my wife Karen Loeb to tell her about it, and Karen called me at the reference desk , arranging to meet me at lunch so that she could tell me the devastating news in person. I really appreciate how both Karen and Amy handled this burden.

We got through lunch. Back at my job in the afternoon I had to do something to organize my thoughts. I work at the public library in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, at the information/reference desk. We guide customers through the online catalog, or answer various questions about the library’s programs and locations, as well as answer the quick lookup or longer term research questions that come in.

And of course those questions did come in. But I was thinking of John. And of Debi, and Amy and the rest of the King family, and of all the people in all the world who right now were trying to make arrangements to get to St. Pete in a few days’ time. And how time was what we didn’t have anymore, at least no more time with John, and when was the moment of heaviest impact going to come? This death thing that John and I spoke of so often, skirting it or bearding it, or just getting spooked by it. I wanted to call him, I felt so in and out of myself, to let John be the one to calm me down.

About halfway through the afternoon I began to assemble a shrine out of the few objects we had in the library that pertained to John in some central way. We had available both the vhs version of “From Here to Eternity” and a copy of the James Jones book. They both went on the counter near my workspace. I checked the catalog to see if the Hawaiian shirt book (the Hope book) was in. It was, and I opened it to the page showing Montgomery Clift wearing “the Death Shirt”—the Duke Kahanamoku line shirt with the waving palms against the midnight blue background that was the object of many a collector’s hours of hunting. I wished that I had on that shirt myself just then, but I was wearing a regular Wisconsin plaid shirt. The copy of the Duke that John had given me several years ago was home in my closet, even though it was a Friday and sometimes we did an abbreviated Aloha Friday even in Eau Claire. (Again, John’s reach.)

For more personal items I was glad to see that the Mel Bay ukulele method book was in stock, “Famous Solos and Duets for the Ukulele.” That went on the counter. But I was disappointed to find that our copy of John’s Bach cd was checked out. Then I thought again, “even in Eau Claire”: not only do we own it, but people are using it.

Still, that left the shrine a bit brief. I had been thinking for hours of something else. Moby Dick was a book that John loved, and there is a chapter called “The Lee Shore” that we discussed fairly often. It is only four paragraphs, and could be photocopied onto one sheet, and so that went on the counter too.

The text of that chapter is a bit tricky to understand. It seems to be about death but in studying it now the only real reference to death comes in the last sentence: --Up from the spray of thy ocean-perishing—straight up, leaps thy apotheosis!-- It is a chapter about one Bulkington, who amazes Ishmael by re-upping for the Pequod voyage shortly after returning from a four years dangerous voyage. Ishmael compares him to a ship avoiding the lee shore during a storm because the shore is --that ship’s direst jeopardy--. It really seems to be a metaphor about the artist’s need to avoid the comfortable and seek the unknown instead of --the treacherous, slavish shore--.

But the line in that chapter that John and I continually returned to was one that we both read as epitaph: --Know ye now, Bulkington--? I highlighted that line in blue on the photocopy on the counter. We used it when any of our contemporaries died. --Know ye now, Biggleston--? we intoned, after a man our age who worked at Eckerd College had died unexpectedly.

That was in the mid-1980s. But it was a line that repeated over time when others of our peers went before their time, as in --Know ye now, Lee Sanders?
Richard Hill?
Flo Mingo--?

In my mind that day it was terrible to say, --Know ye now, John King--!

At the end of my shift I took all of the materials off the counter and put them on the librarian’s recommended shelf. Then I went home to put on the death shirt. (I know John would have done the same for me.) I ached to talk to him. I marveled that this one print was the white whale of vintage Hawaiian shirt collectors, and planned to pack it to take with us to the funeral.
April 09, 2009
Just wanted to let you know Debbi that you are in prayers. I am so sorry for your great loss.
April 08, 2009
We so enjoyed the Portland Ukefest concerts where we listened to John King's unique playing of the ukulele. He's left so many with memories of his beautiful ukulele notes.
April 08, 2009
John was truly an inspiration to me. If it were not for him, I would never have been exposed to campanella style. I will be eternally grateful for his contribution to the ukulele as the fine instrument that it is.

May God bless his family in this period of sorrow.
April 08, 2009
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
April 08, 2009
I was saddened to learn about John's passing. I would like to express my deepest sympathy to the King Family. I had not known and met him personally; however, I was so blessed to discover him and his love for music through YouTube and his Nalu website. Music is very important in my life that is why I am very grateful for the Ukulele history, books, ukulele performances on youtube that he shared to millions of us. May God bless and comfort the King family. I will miss his superb ukulele performances on YouTube. Rest in peace Maestro John King.
April 08, 2009
John led the way in showing the world what you could do on a ukulele. The discipline and precision of his playing is unsurpassed. His Bach performances stand up well to those of Segovia. John inspired me to stretch my mental boundaries on the ukulele as well and for that I will always be in his debt.
I was fortunate enough to know John, although I did not know him well. The awesomeness of his musicianship did not spill over into his personality. He was easy to talk to and very generous with his time and support for other musicians.
We had John up in Boston for an early Ukulele Noire at the Skybar 2006. We had a strong lineup that night, but none of us came even close to John. At the end of his set, John received a standing ovation.

Thanks John, for all the inspiration, kindness, scholarship, and superb musicianship.
April 08, 2009
I just heard today. I hardly know what to say .. except that I am terribly, terribly sad. I think of you often.
Love, Keir
April 08, 2009
To the King Family, please accept my most heartfelt sympathy for your great loss.

I had the delightful pleasure of meeting John during our Rotary International Fellowship trip to India in 1985. I still have a crystal clear memory of his spirited and well-attended classical guitar recital in the city of Bangalore and the day we spent exploring the Taj Mahal in Agra. (he was wearing a Hawaiian shirt of course!) John's inquisitive, knowledgeable, insightful and frequently hilarious perspective greatly enhanced even this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Some 23 years later, and quite by accident, I ran into John in Safety Harbor, Florida at a gathering of finger-picking enthusiasts. He astonished us with his ukulele mastery and charmed us with his folksy storytelling. In his warm and humorous way he greeted me like that 23 year gap never existed. I’ll remember John this way.

John, travel well, old friend, and may God bless you and your Family.
April 08, 2009
I'm sorry to say I just learned of John King and his incredible gift yesterday. My music professor played some YouTube videos of him playing classical music on the ukulele. I was completely blown away. Just like other great masters of music his legacy is already touching people who never knew him. May God bless his family and friends for surely God has already blessed Mr. King.
April 08, 2009
Debbie, I am sorry to hear of your loss. It is never easy to lose a spouse. Please extend my deepest sympathies to your daughters and other family members.
Jane Haughney
April 08, 2009
I regret never having met John, but his tremendous talent and approach to the ukulele was and continues to be, awe inspiring to myself and thousands of others. His careful research on the uke provided us with entertaining and thought provoking reading as well as a lot of laughs. The beauty of his contributions will continue to inspire, motivate and entertain us in perpetuity.

My deepest condolences to his family.
April 08, 2009
Last year I was finally brave enough to sign up for a workshop with John King and found him to be a kind, patient and funny teacher. Although I missed many chords and sometimes didn't know which finger was which, King helped me feel confident that - with a lot of practice - I would eventually be able to play the piece all the way through.
John King will be greatly missed by everyone who attended his workshops at the Uke Fest in Portland, Oregon, or who enjoyed his sense of humor and awesome performances at the evening concerts.
April 08, 2009
So many entries here. And they are but a fraction of the hundreds of people whose lives were made better by John King's music, his enthusiasm, his grace and his love for his family. The first (and only) time I saw him perform was the 2004 Ukulele Guild of Hawaii expo. A few measures into one classical piece, he botched it. He stopped, grinned and said, "My heart is beating so fast!" Then he launched back into it with jaw-dropping virtuosity. Would that we could all play the ukulele with his skill, but better still that we would lead our lives more like that of this fine and decent man.
April 07, 2009
Dear John, thank you for sharing your in depth knowledge with me as I pursue my own quest. Thank you for sharing your music and showing the world serious study of an instrument can be both serious and lighthearted at the same time. And thank you for showing the world that big hands can play a soprano ukulele just fine! You will always be loved and remembered.
April 07, 2009
For those who couldn't make it to the funeral, some words written, dedicated to my father:
"My father was a wonderful person. During the last few days, I’ve realized how much everything reminds me of him. As much as this saddens me, It also makes me realize how fortunate I am to have had a great dad, who loved me, loved his art, and had a heart that reached across the world. My memories are countless, but I thought I would share a few of my favorite times, qualities, and thoughts of my dad with everyone.
As I’m sure everyone knows, my dad was a great musician. He was a phenomenal guitarist, as well as an amazing ukulele player. He was always very modest, too modest about his huge talent for playing these instruments, probably because he felt his guitar buddies aka the guitar mafia were so much better than him. He loved researching the ukulele, and reviving old Hawaiian music that had other wise been lost. Also, for anyone who didn’t know, my father partially grew up in Hawaii and was completely in love with the culture. At one point, he even had over 400 Hawaiian shirts which landed him a spot in the news paper. There is also a room in our house which we call the Hawaiian room, which is where my dad did a lot of his work. The room is inhabited by hundreds and hundreds of hula dolls, leis, and his other various collections. He always wanted to learn more and more about the ukulele, and frequently asked me to listen to his newest writing project. I loved falling asleep upstairs to the sound of the ukulele being played downstairs. He would always say the he wanted to move to Hawaii when I had left home, and live in a shack in the mountains near the beach.
Also, as many people know, my dad was a complete goofball and funny man. Something he did that still embarrasses me is the first time I ever brought boys over to the house in 7th grade. My friends Eric and TK were over to watch a movie or something, and my dad thought it would be a great idea to welcome them in to our home by showing them his knife collection. Luckily, he didn’t scare them away completely. Also, for many Halloweens' I remember, my dad would play the shining soundtrack from our house, and dress up in a hula outfit, which I’m sure frightened the children much more than the music.
My dad also gave me some of the greatest memories of my life, and had such an influence on me culturally, as I hardly know of anyone my age who has heard of George Formby or even knows what the midday Mozart is. My dad could also name any composer or piece of music on NPR and then grin and point at the radio when he was right. We took lots of drives together, just to talk. When me and my sister were younger my dad would pick us up from school and play the Beatles and Bob Dylan. And of course James Taylor when he was taking me to my horse back riding lessons. For about a year now, he would randomly play Gilbert and Sullivan and make me crack up with his impressions of the singing. I will miss our little trips just driving forever.
My dad really loved being with his family. He used to joke that when he was younger all of these unattractive girls had crushes on him, then he met my mom. Sometimes I feel bad for him that he was stuck in a house full of girls for over thirty years, but he didn’t ever seem to have a problem with it. He loved us all and did everything to make us happy. He would always tell me that if I needed to talk he was there, because he didn’t want me to worry about anything.
I don’t know if he knows how proud of him I am, because I know how proud of me he was. He was teaching me to play the guitar and ukulele, but I wasn’t as naturally talented as him, although I can still play a few songs. My friends will always tell me how me and my dad were so alike with our facial expressions, laughs and artistic endeavors. I will miss watching the O’Reilly factor with him just for laughs, him not admitting to liking any movie except the Incredibles and There Will Be Blood, and claiming that he only steps foot in movie theatres for the popcorn and air conditioning.
My friend told me yesterday that my dad might not be here physically, but he lives through me, my mother, my sisters, and everybody else who he’s met , as if we all carry a little piece of him that shows through us everyday. his personality is so strong and endearing. He leaves a deep impression. Words cannot describe how badly I miss him right now, but I can say that I truly believe I will see him again, and feel his undying love forever."

Thank you for everyone's support and prayers, it means the world to my family.
April 07, 2009
I am so very saddened to hear of this news. My sympathies to his family. He will be missed.
April 07, 2009
THE KING IS DEAD...LONG LIVE THE KING !! John King was truly unique and special ! He was a grand master of research and performance on the MACHETE and 'UKULELE ! His passing is a major loss to our ukulele community !! My heartfelt condolences go out to his family and let them know we all share in their loss !! But he leaves behind for all of us not just memories of him but his outstanding research, writings, and CD's that will be with us forever !! I will miss his friendship, his musical and historical contributions along with sublime virtuosity on the machete and 'ukulele...and will always treasure the joyful musical vunues we participated in together !! We have all been enriched by knowing him and experiencing his lecture/performances !! Rest in Peace my dear friend !!
April 07, 2009
My heartfelt sympathy goes out to his family. What a wonderful man. I like many count myself blessed to have known him. He was always someone I could write or call and he would gladly share the answers to my ukulele questions. To hear him play was to captivate your senses. His intense research of the ukulele was with out compare. He shared his music, his knowledge, his talent, and his laughter with the wonder that is the ukulele. The world was made a better place by John. Thanks for sharing your husband & father with us all.
God Bless...
April 07, 2009
Thank you John, for sharing your wonderful gift of music, your inspirational teaching, and your scholarship. You've left a mark in this world and on my heart.
Prayers of comfort for your family.
April 06, 2009
I talked with John just before his performance at the 2008 New York Uke Fest and asked him if he had done anything special to prepare for going on. He said he had on a t-shirt from his son's college and was wearing his father's watch to make him feel comfortable on stage. I remember thinking what a great answer that was. John was a true master of his instrument whose gift touched many people -- a great legagcy.
April 06, 2009
John was my guitar professor during my first year at Eckerd College. He was always upbeat and a joy to be around. He was a remarkable musician and great man. I'm thinking of him, and send my condolences to his family.
April 06, 2009
It was wonderful to meet John, and participate in his classes at last year's Portland Uke Fest. He will be sorely missed. Bless his journey...

Keith Blackwell
April 06, 2009
I only knew John from his work - his music and his writing. I was uplifted by his music, enlightened by his writing, and I sure wish we could have met. I had a few questions for him!

Until, we meet, John.
April 06, 2009
John was quite the ukulele historian. We sat in awe, while John King, John Traqueda and Jim Beloff cited the history of the ukulele. John's humbleness was surprizing, as his playing was phenominal. I remember a small rubber pad he palced between his torso and the uke, so it would not slip during his lightning fast chord changes. John brought smiles to our faces and music into our hearts. Our prayers go out to John, his family and friends.
April 06, 2009
We were honored to have John play the uke at the funeral service for my wife in May, 2008. He was a wonderful and talented Artist with music that left us memories that cannot be matched! Condolences and love to his family.
April 06, 2009
It is rare to witness genius in one's lifetime, but John truly fit that description. We'll miss and his music, but look forward to jamming with him in Heaven one day. 1Thes 4:13-18
April 06, 2009
John was a fine artist, a brilliant scholar and most importantly to me, a great friend. I will miss his wit, his music and his laughter. I wish him well on his new journey.
April 06, 2009
My condolences to the Kings Ohana. I met John at the Santa Cruz, CA Ukulele Festival 2004. It was great to see someone raised in Hawaii, and to enhance the ukulele virtuoso to a higher level of playing. He was truely a Classical/Hawaiian Ukulele artist. He had utmost clarity in his playing. His big ALOHA will always be there. John, MAHALO VERY MUCH & A HUI HOU, see you in the morning.
April 06, 2009
Our paths crossed in the 70s around a Michael Lorimer concert and again last year. John did a favor for me that only he could do. One that I could never fully return. His music was matched by his civility and kindness. I hope you find some solace in these remembrances.
April 05, 2009
I am fortunate enough to have met and learned from John King.
A master of the art and a real classy man. My sympathies to his family in this difficult time.
April 05, 2009
John was an inspiration to me. May it comfort you to know that so many other people across the United States were touched by him. It is because of John's classical style of music that has kept me loving the Ukulele. I learned how to 'finger pick' after purchasing his books. He will be missed by many.
April 05, 2009
My wife and I are stunned and deeply saddened to receive the news of John's passing. We felt so privileged to have him in our home to visit and examine my ukulele collection, and to have been so often the recipients of his generosity in imparting information. He did research for me, freely gave of his expertise, and entertained us magnificently with his musical genius. Though our meetings were few and far between, we're proud to have known him as a friend. He will be deeply missed. May his memory be a blessing for his family and to all of us who knew him.
April 05, 2009
John, while I am deeply saddened by your passing, I take comfort in your legacy and the personal touch you brought to our joy and love of ukulele. To John's family, please accept my sincere condolences and trust that he lives on in the countless ukulele players (and classical guitarists) that he so directly influenced.
April 05, 2009
John will be sorely missed by his many students and those who love his music. John proved to us what beautiful music can be made with a simple four-string instrument if enough effort and hard practice are applied. My thoughts and prayers are with his family during their time of mourning.
April 05, 2009
John's beautiful music will be well received not only in Heaven, but as a legacy he left for all still on earth.
April 05, 2009
If you're a member of John's family, I'm sure you can sense the delight he brought to those of us in the ukulele community--and I thank you for "sharing" him.

John's tongue-in-cheek sense of humor made any conversation with him a joy, but his humility (despite all that skill!) is what made him a man to admire.

When checking out from the host hotel at the UkeFest West (Santa Cruz, 2004), I finished paying my bill and heard, just around the corner from the lobby desk, pure, sweet sounds coming from an ukulele. I searched out the source and there, in a darkish alcove, sat John, suitcase beside him and Fluke in his arms. Who'd have guessed that just 12 hours before he'd been one of the evening performance's featured acts? He looked up at me. "I'm sorry. Am I bothering you?" he asked. Not having met him personally until that time (but in awe of his playing skill) I said he certainly wasn't bothering me at all and to please continue playing. He smiled, patting the ukulele. "They're lovely little instruments aren't they?" he stated quietly.

I think that sense of joy John got from playing is why so many of us got an equal sense of joy in listening to him.

My prayers are with your family.
April 05, 2009
Debi and Girls, Our thoughts and prayers are with you. John was a wonderful man. Anne remembers him speaking to her class about the ukulele and I remember his smiles from visits on the blacktop before and after school at St Paul's. Blessings to you all and prayers for peace.
April 05, 2009
Debi, I am so sorry to hear of the death of your husband John. Although I never had the opportunity to meet John, I can't imagine the sorrow you are feeling now. As one of my earliest USF students, you will always hold a special place in my heart. Please let me know if there is anythingI can do. God bless you and your family.
April 05, 2009
The ukulele community lost a great one with the passing of John King. Aloha 'oe, Keone.
April 05, 2009
All of us at the Museum of Making Music are deeply saddened by the loss of John King. His gentle and kind spirit, his clarity of mind, his depth of knowledge, his friendship and sincerity will all be greatly missed.
April 05, 2009
Dear Debi and family,
John was a unique and wonderful man. I will miss very much seeing him when I come to the area. My thoughts are with you at this sad and unwelcome time.
Al Kunze, Miami
April 05, 2009
Debi, We are so sorry to read about the passing of John. Our prayers are with you during this time. Please let us know if we can do anything for you. Bless you and yours.
April 05, 2009
My sincere condolences to John's family. I'm lucky to have experienced John a number of times over the past five years in the ukulele community. His talent and intellect were outstanding. But it was his gentle spirit, quick wit and willingness to share that inspired many of us to want to grow our skills. Peace to you John!
April 05, 2009
John King was a wonderful teacher, and a master of the classical ukulele. The world is smaller without him, but a better place because of him.
Carmen Walker
Dallas, TX
April 05, 2009
I am both shocked and dismayed to learn of John's passing. As I got to know him through mutual friends and ukulele enthusiasts, it quickly became clear what a remarkable talent and personality John had. I will always treasure the time we got to spend together at the Museum of Making Music's Ukulele exhibit in Carlsbad, California in summer of 2007. My most sincere condonlences go out to John's family and friends. The bright world of the ukulele is a little dimmer today due to John's absence, although his sizeable contributions to the history and repertoire of the instrument will long be remembered.
April 05, 2009
I am new to the ukulele, and saddened that my introduction to Mr. King's incredible artistry comes via news of his passing. His dedication and talent elevated the instrument to new heights, and the legacy he left will continue to inspire myself and others. My sincerest sympathies to Mr. King's family.
April 05, 2009
We will all treasure the gifts John brought to us across the country, across the seas, from Hawaii to Madeira and beyond, forever. Aloha, John...may your song always be sung...Haina ia mai ana kapuana.
April 05, 2009
Thank you, John, for being a guide to us and for generously giving your precious time, knowledge and remarkable talent so that others may be inspired to discover the joy of music and music making.
April 05, 2009
I was privileged to see John play on a couple of occasions. He was a true master of the ukulele, and a passionate scholar of ukulele history. A singular figure in the ukulele universe, that will never be replaced. His passing is a great loss to all of us, but his legacy remains a treasure.
April 05, 2009
I was fortunate enough to meet John and see him perform first hand. Watching him execute such complicated passages on a soprano instrument was, not only mind numbing but, very inspiring to me. He truly was a “master”.

My sincere condolences to his family and friends.
April 05, 2009
James j. Murchie
April 05, 2009
A true gentleman and scholar, he will truly be missed by many...
April 05, 2009
I never got to meet Mr. King, I merely sat in awe of his playing skills, which he shared through videos.

His ability to play incredibly ornate and quick passages with each note ringing out clear, unmuddled and distinct from its neighbors, is a goal that I most likely will be striving towards for the rest of my days.

And he made it look so easy. That's the mark of the master right there.

My condolences to his loved ones.

We've lost a giant, but not his memory.
April 05, 2009
My condolences to John's family and friends. His music is an inspiration to all of us who play. Thank you.
April 05, 2009
John's scholarly, quiet performances at the Portland Ukulele Festival for the past three years left the audience stunned by his talent. To listen to him play left me with new insight into music history.

My condolences to John's family.
Anne Trudeau, Portland Oregon
April 05, 2009
I met John a few years ago. He was an amazing artist, and a very humble and gentle man. The legacy of his music will continue to inspire. My sympathies to John's family.
April 05, 2009
We will miss your humor and talent John, you were one of a kind!
April 05, 2009
John and I corresponded some, and had mutual friends. I looked forward very much to meeting him one day, and now I can't. Those of you who did know him were very fortunate.
April 05, 2009
I am so heartbroken to find out that we have lost such an important part of the ukulele community. We will never be able to fill his shoes. Mr. King you will be missed by those who know you personally and those who did not have the opportunity.
April 04, 2009
Aloha oe, old friend. My sincere condolences to the King family.
uke jackson
April 04, 2009
My Sincerest sympathy's to John's family at this sad time. I was honored to study music/ukulele taught by Mr. King for the last 3 years in Porland, Oregon. He was such a Master as his skills; and whether teaching or playing, he unknowingly had a demand over his audience, and WE are all better people to have experienced John King. Lest I not forget what seemed like a serious teacher and player - was also a comedian and he made this student want to learn everything I could from him. The world is a better place because of John King, and now Heaven is a better place too.
April 04, 2009
John touched us all with his incredible artistry and his deep intellect... and he was a great guy to boot. He will be sorely missed.
April 04, 2009
Though I never had the honor to meet John, I consider myself so blessed to have been touched by his love of the 'ukulele and the wonderful music he made. To his wife, children, family and friends know that you are in my prayers.
April 04, 2009
May I add my condolences to his family and close friends. John King leaves us legacy of musical excellence and generosity. RIP, Maestro King.
April 04, 2009
My sympathies to John's family.He was a great and gentle man. We spent an afternoon together in the Poconos.We talked and played ukes and when John went to teach workshops I stayed with his Mother Dolores who told the most wonderful stories about John and his musical genius.I remain moved by the love and tenderness I witnessed that day.
April 04, 2009
John's legacy includes countless musicians who were profoundly influenced and inspired by his artistry. All of us owe him and his family a tremendous debt of gratitude and thanks. He will never be forgotten.
April 04, 2009
This sadness has swept through the music world in the way John swept through his music on the ukulele; with deep emotion and impact. Carry the music on your journey, we will all be listening.
April 04, 2009
My condolences and sincere sympathies go to John King's family. John was such a nice guy, and a wonderful musician. My best memory is seeing him practice his guitar in the garden by the library at Eckerd College on his lunch hour - giving all of us who passed by and listened a free concert!

This was indeed sad news. He will be missed by the many people whose lives were touched by his unique, intelligent, and talented spirit.
April 04, 2009
John King enriched the lives of all who love music.
April 04, 2009
To the family of John King...I am so sorry and saddened to hear of John's death. I knew him as an ukulele workshop leader, and great player of classical music on the ukulele.
I was privledged to be in his audience on a few occasions in Hawaii. I teach beginning ukulele, and I speak of John and his talent to all my classes. I'm so sorry for your loss.
Be well
Kona don price Huntington Beach, CA
April 04, 2009
I never met John King but he is the person I speak about when someone dismisses the ukulele as a toy. Mr. King's recordings of Bach's Prelude, Carol of the Bells, Sousa's Washington Post March, etc., etc. are not only inspiring to those of us who will never approach his skill level, they demonstrate what this instrument is capable of in the hands of a master.

RIP, Maestro.
April 04, 2009
John King master ukulele player and humorist. Thanks for sharing your talents.

Mark Gutierrez
April 04, 2009
He will be missed, the legacy of music that he left, the people he inspired.
April 04, 2009
Part of what and who I am is John King. I cannot conceive of the pain you feel of those who knew him better than I. He touched more lives than you can know.
Strength & Honor
April 04, 2009
John King was a fellow who played his ukulele everywhere, including Sunday’s in church. Now john you can play amongst the angels forever. I wait to hear you play again.
Geoff Rezek
April 04, 2009
I am deeply saddened by this news. John was a brilliant artist and teacher who will be deeply missed by all who knew him. I treasure the many hours I spent learning to play the ukulele with him and will miss my gentle friend with his droll wit and great love of music.

John always spoke so lovingly about Debi and his daughters. I send my deepest condolences to them and the rest of his family for their loss.

April 04, 2009
This is very sad news. John was a good friend, a true expert on the history of the ukulele, an amazing player and a sincerely nice guy.
I will have to reflect on all the great times I got to spend with him, learning and enjoying his musical artistry, as well as his good nature and sense of humor.
He will indeed be missed dearly. My best to his family and friends.
Sincerely, Ali
April 04, 2009
I am profoundly grateful for John's music and scholarship. His generosity is a bright legacy which I will always treasure.
April 04, 2009
John’s passing leaves a void of the most complex nature. How lightly we accept the accomplishments of our friends until they leave us. Then we are faced with imagining who or what could take their place. Beneath John’s rich surface accomplishments in music — which we claim as one of the great markers for our evolution as humans and a crowning jewel in the idea of “Culture” — was John’s astonishing intellect. He was really bright! And he was really curious. And he was an indefatigable researcher. And he had a wonderful eye which complimented his wonderful ear. These aided him in being such a gifted, sympathetic guitar teacher and such a rich and enigmatic personality.
One could not have done all that John did (and was deeply involved with at the time of his shockingly sudden death) without extraordinary attention and devotion. To details. To history. To “the big picture.” Without that devotion that comes from an almost cellular love of a subject. And the subject of music takes one so many places. Its doorway leads to the past, to the future, to composition, to critique, to performance, to manuscripts, to rich human interactions with other musicians. Six or seven people could struggle to be masters of all over which he held sway.
And then, the Hawaiiana: the hula dolls, the koa wood, the books, the geegaws and gimcracks, those astonishingly valuable shirts and the venerable ukulele itself. It made for such an interesting and peculiar little obsession with just enough silliness (and unimagined value) to keep it sane and profitable.
I often called him for computer advice. We all need a bank of talented geek friends to get us through these digital days and John had room in his voluminous brain for the ins and outs of software and hardware and the programming tricks only an expert knows. Where did he find the time?
I have been SO grateful, since the terrible news came yesterday by phone, that John and I had taken several hours-long walks recently. He needed the exercise as did I. Mostly he talked and I listened, prompting him with questions. We talked eBay tricks, we talked his childhood, we talked music, music composition, we talked guy talk and gossip and the messed up state of the world. Those miles pounding pavement will remain with me as my close-perspective view into John’s life and heart and mind, complimenting my memories of him nearly 30 years ago when we met as artists-in residence to the city of St. Petersburg. I arranged then for socially prominent citizens to host musicals in their lovely homes. John brought his classical guitar and his musical gifts. The hosts provided nibbles and guests. I played impresario and designed the invitations. Thank you, John for a wonderful concert decades in the making! You played it magnificently.

April 04, 2009
Our hearts break at this loss. John was a kind hearted friend of our family. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to his family.
John, Jeanne and Jack Deck
April 04, 2009
Dear Emma,

We want you to know that you are in our thoughts and prayers at this very sad time. Our deepest sympathy and love to you and your family.

Mr. and Mrs. Passmore
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