Gary Lee Zwicky of Oak Park, Illinois, died on Easter Sunday, April 8, at his home at Belmont Village in Oak Park after a hard-fought battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 77.
Gary was born June 18, 1934, in Oshkosh, Wisc., to George and Bessie (Widmer) Zwicky. He married Elaine Holmes in 1960 in Vineyard Haven.
He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and his doctor of music arts, the first to be given in organ, from the University of Illinois at Champaign. He also was a fellow in the College of Church Musicians at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and earned the Fellowship from the American Guild of Organists (F.A.G.O.), the highest professional degree granted by the guild.
In addition, he served as national director of Guild Student Groups for the American Guild of Organists and as organ chairman and superintendent of Syllabus Publications for the Illinois State Music Teachers Association. He gave recitals throughout the United States and Germany.
Gary was a professor of music at Eastern Illinois University from 1966 to 1994 and served as organist and choirmaster at more than 10 churches in Illinois, Texas, Maryland, and Massachusetts. One of his greatest pleasures was playing keyboard recital duets with his wife, Elaine.
After retiring from EIU, Gary embarked on a wonderful second career as organist and choirmaster at Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs and as director of the Vineyard Haven Band. He played in a jazz trio and brass quintet on Martha’s Vineyard and delighted his grandchildren and others by dressing as a lion tamer while directing performances of “The Carnival of the Animals.”
Gary and Elaine greatly enjoyed many years of retirement on their beloved Martha’s Vineyard before moving to Oak Park in 2009.
As a gifted and highly respected musician, Gary touched many lives with his music throughout his lifetime. In recent years, he took up the hobby of genealogy, tirelessly researching his and his wife’s families so his children and grandchildren would know their roots.
He is survived by his wife of Oak Park; his son, Fred (Elise) Zwicky of Pekin; his daughter, Jeanette (Gregg) Simon of Oak Park; his grandchildren, Megan, Kristen, and Sean Zwicky of Pekin and Hunter and Winston Simon of Oak Park; his brother, Warren Zwicky of Washington, D.C.; his brother-in-law, Norman (Stephanie Crissman) Bauer of Silver Spring, Md.; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Betty Jane Zwicky Bauer; and his brother, LaVerne Zwicky.
Cremation was accorded by Gamboney and Son in Oak Park. A celebration of life Mass will be held at 10:30 am on April 28, at Grace Episcopal Church, 924 Lake St. in Oak Park.
Memorials may be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Church Street Station, P.O. Box 780, New York, NY 10008, or to the Vineyard Haven Band at P.O. Box 2187, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.