We lost Leon Breeden 4 years ago today. A few of us had gone to see him that day in the hospital. Jim Riggs, Dan Haerle, my wife-Susan, and I stood around his bedside talking to him for a little while. He could not speak, but could look at us and squeeze our hands.
I think it was important we could be there (three of his ex-jazz students, Susan, and his grand daughter) because two of his sons had already died, he had lost two wives, and his daughter was in the Denton State School for the mentally handicapped. My last words to him were, “We love you”.
Thirty minutes later as we were doing home, we heard he had died just after we left. Susan and I started working on this tribute to him when we got home, which they played at his memorial service, as it turned out. He had a marvelous life, and I’ll be posting more about him as time goes by. I was so glad we had been there to send him off. His jazz family had been such a big part of his life that it felt right to have us there together at the end.
The words by him at the start of this video were given as part of his retirement speech the first day of his last year to teach. These days, I can’t drive through Denton without thinking about him, and wishing we could go by for another visit with him.