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Harry's biography and life as a professional musician and entrepreneur, and Barbara's life with him, is told in her memoir, THE DRUMMER DRIVES! Everybody Else Rides. Buy on Amazon.


Below, Harry in his later years, at home in his living room.


"The world is round, but I am square."

"He was always difficult, but he never was a bore."

"I have a weight problem. When it comes to eating, I can hardly wait."

"Until we meet again. . . just remember . . . must we?"


Copyright © 2005-2018 by Barbara Brabec

Page 4:"In Memory of Harry Brabec,"
as recounted by his widow, Barbara

Life as Mrs. Harry Brabec

Harry was always a risk-taker in both his daily and professional lives—a daring improviser who lived for the moment and rarely worried about the future. Impetuous, gregarious, and sharp-witted, he always saw the funny side of any situation and was quick to share his humorous quips with me or anyone else who happened to be within speaking distance. He appreciated fine art, handmade products, and good cooking, especially mine. (I never saw him say no to any new dish set before him anywhere in the world, but he couldnít abide marshmallows.)

An avid reader who always had a stack of books on his night stand waiting to be read, Harry also subscribed to several newspapers, magazines, and  newsletters, and he was constantly clipping something from them to add to one of his many scrapbooks, all the while listening to music from his eclectic collection of tapes, LPs and CDs. Even when he was no longer playing professionally, his life was wrapped in music, and his tastes ran from classical and easy listening to big bands, marching bands and circus music, to instrumentals, percussion, and vocals. All the while he lay in a coma during the last days of his life, I kept the music playing in the belief that he was hearing it and being comforted by it.

My life with Harry was often filled with financial uncertainty due to his being a freelance musician and entrepreneur, but it was always jam-packed with love, adventure, music, travel, laughter, surprise, and romance. We met on a blind date in front of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago on Sunday, August 8, 1961 after a friend had suggested he just call me to set up a date. "How will I know you?" I asked, and he said, "Just look for a guy who looks like the last of the Mohicans whoís wearing baggy pants and has a rose in his teeth."

With just 22 cents in cash and a check from the Chicago Symphony in his pocket, he had taken a risk by inviting me to dinner in hopes that I could find someone on a Sunday night who would cash the check (which I did). In just ten minutes' time, I knew he was impatient like me, blunt and to the point, delightfully charming, witty, very sentimental, and absolutely nuts.

We had four dates in a row and on the way home from the fourth one, he astonished me by saying," Incidentally, Iím going to marry you. You might be thinking about it a little bit. Iíll call you for lunch tomorrow." All in one breath.

"Youíre nuts," I said.

He gave me a grin and said, "You might as well get used to it."

We were married two weeks later, and we would have been married 44 years in August 2005.

Once, when we were making up titles for our imagined autobiographies, Harry picked for himself, "The World is Round, But I Am Square." And he had it right when he said a fitting epitaph for him might be, "He was always difficult, but he never was a bore." But what I'll remember most about Harry as I grow older is that he loved me more than anyone else on earth, and one of his main goals in life was to make me and other people laugh.

Harry truly was the last of a dying breed. He will be missed by many, but none more than me.

Related Articles

Barbara's memoir about life with Harry (published April 2010).

Knowing Someone Like a Book. How well do you know the person you love most? This article by Barbara may prompt couples to begin asking questions . . .

Barbara's series, "Thoughts and Advice of a New Widow"

Barbara's Memory Box of Life With Harry. A photographic look at the life of Barbara and Harry over a period of nearly 44 years of marriage.

Back to Harry's Cover Page

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