Wilford “Bill” L. Holcombe Jr. (1924-2010)
The Club mourns the loss of Bill Holcombe, the flutist, composer, and arranger, who died peacefully at home on April 25 at the age of 85. Born in Trenton, NJ, Bill was a lifelong area resident and graduate of Trenton High School. He studied flute at the Juilliard School in New York, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in musicology. As a composer and arranger, Bill worked with Tommy Dorsey, 101 Strings, Peter Nero, and over 100 symphony orchestras, nationally and internationally. He also wrote more than 15 film scores. In 1975 he founded his company, Bill Holcombe’s Musicians Publications. Bill played flute, clarinet and saxophone and in his early career performed with Tommy Dorsey, Tex Beneke, Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians, and the New York radio station WMGM "Theatre of the Air." He was also a Decca Records staff player. In recent years Bill had appeared as a soloist with many symphony orchestras around the country in a show entitled "Bravo Big Bands," for which he wrote most of the arrangements. He played flute and piccolo with the Greater Trenton Symphony Orchestra for many years, his last performance with them was in December 2008. He also led and played soprano sax in the Philadelphia Saxophone Quartet. Less than two weeks before his death, more than 40 musicians gathered for a tribute concert in Ewing, NJ, of Holcombe's music and arrangements. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Helen Mooney Holcombe, and his six children. In lieu of flowers, donations may be given to Samaritan Hospice.
Bill and Musicians Publications were personally known to many from Flute Fairs and NFA conventions, and his passing is a loss to the flute community. Obituaries for Bill have also appeared in the Times of Trenton, along with a tribute article. If you would like to contribute stories or photos, please contact the Webmaster.