Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bruce Hilton, 1930 - 2008

Joyful Noise Jazz Band founder, leader and tuba player Bruce Hilton passed away March 14, 2008, in Sacramento. He was 77.

Without him, there would have been no band.

Please share your memories
of Bruce Hilton in comments.


The Joyful Noise Jazz Band said...


Born: June 3, 1930
Died: March 14, 2008

Remembered for: Pioneering medical ethicist, author, columnist, longtime journalist, United Methodist clergyman, traditional jazz musician; member of the Sacramento 68; and longtime advocate for the rights of minorities, women and the LGBT community.

Survived by: sons, Steve of Westborough, Mass., Philip of Sacramento, Thomas of San Francisco, Paul of San Francisco; brothers, Dave of Atlanta, Ga., and Don of Hereford, Texas; and two grandchildren (Max of Oakland, Calif., and Veronica of Westborough, Mass.). He was preceded in death by his wife, Virginia, who died in October 2007.

Memorial service: A service celebrating his life will be held at 2 p.m., April 5 at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, 2391 St. Mark’s Way, Sacramento 95864.

Remembrances: In lieu of flowers and cards, donations may be sent to: Parent’s Reconciling Network, 3801 Keeler Ave., Chicago, IL 60641; or Methodist Federation for Social Action, 212 E. Capitol St. NE, Washington, D.C. 20003.

Rick said...

I'll miss him greatly. Bruce (and Virginia) were true friends to so many over the years.

The social director at Carlton House got some great photos of Bruce when JNJB played there earlier this year. Has she shared those with you?

God Bless


Cynthia B. Astle said...

Bruce was a respected colleague. My favorite memory of him will always be a meeting of the United Methodist Committee to Study Homosexuality, which met in San Francisco in 1990 or '91, I believe.

Bruce offered to take anyone interested to the Marin Headlands to watch the sunrise over San Francisco. Several of us jumped at the chance, including me, on my second trip to California.

As we stood in the chilly dawn high above San Francisco Bay, I fell in love with the whole Bay Area, and have since made several trips there from my home in Dallas, TX. Some of my best photos are from the Marin Headlands, thanks to Bruce showing me the way.

After the sun came up, we went to breakfast at a little cafe' in The Castro. It was quite a sight to see so many rainbow flags and banners displayed in the neighborhood.

Then, to top off that meeting, Bruce and the Joyful Noise Jazz Band played for the committee's worship! It wasn't to everyone's taste, but it certainly was to mine. I've since asked my family to give me a jazz send-off when I go "home to Jesus," as we say in my part of the world.

To me, these invitations to new experiences were classic "Bruce." He was a thoughtful and devout man who stood up to oppression, in whatever forms they presented themselves, and did it with grace and humor. I regret that he found his service on the board of directors of my former publication, The United Methodist Reporter, so frustrating. He was pressing the religious establishment to go where it didn't want to, in terms of the rights due the LGBT community, and finally he gave up on UMR as a lost cause. His example caused me to rethink my associations after I resigned from the editor's chair at the Reporter, and now I write and edit a publication whose editorial stance is unequivocably where Bruce wanted the Reporter to go.

I'm grateful for his witness and for the times our paths crossed in life. He's a genuine hero of Christian faith and I will long honor his memory.

Cynthia B. Astle, Editor
United Methodist NeXus

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