ALLEN ROY TRUBITT / 1931-2008
COURTESY PHOTO / 1996
Allen Trubitt, a prolific composer and music professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, died May 25 at the Arcadia Retirement Residence.
Teacher was in tune with students
Music was Allen Roy Trubitt's world, but friends say teaching was his passion.
Trubitt started in the 7th Army Symphony playing cello and became a prolific composer and professor at the University of Hawaii Music Department.
"I think I might have been a better composer if I had put less time into listening to students, but I figured that was the job, not just to teach to the world, but to teach to particular students," Trubitt said in a 1998 interview with the Star-Bulletin.
After a long battle with Parkinson's disease, Trubitt died on May 25 at the Arcadia Retirement Residence, where he was referred to as "doctor." He was 76.
Serving twice as chairman of the UH-Manoa Music Department, Trubitt will be remembered as an advocate for students, says Laurence Paxton, the current chairman.
"If I could acquire what he acquired, it would be a great honor," says Paxton, who was mentored by Trubitt.
Wearing his signature green jacket on the first day of every class, Trubitt was always available to help fledgling musicians. He was popular, says longtime colleague and friend Neil McKay.
"He was always open to students for advice and counseling," McKay said in a 1998 Star-Bulletin interview. "I really never knew anyone who was better at that, who felt an obligation to the ordinary student."
Trubitt received the 1988 Presidential Citation for Excellence in Teaching.
In addition to teaching, the Chicago-born composer's portfolio includes piano, violin, trumpet and saxophone sonatas. Trubitt also co-authored numerous books and took first place for his choral piece "An American Letter."
Diagnosed with Parkinson's about 20 years ago, Trubitt continued to work. He published "Nine Studies for Trumpet" in the International Trumpet Guild Journal in 2006.
Friends say Trubitt dealt with his disease with the same wit they adored.
"His sense of humor stood out," says McKay.
In an 1995 e-mail titled "How to Be a Good Parkinsonian," Trubitt's dry humor was evident.
"If you must shake your head, shake it just so, Don't let it look like you're saying no. Shake front to back, that'll be best; Then the shaking looks like you're saying yes."
Trubitt's personality was magnetic, says his widow, Janice Trubitt. They met while working with the Hawaii Youth Symphony and married in 1983.
After more than 30 years at the UH-Manoa Music Department, Trubitt retired in 1997.
He is also survived by son David, daughters Lisa and Julie, former wife Anita, brother Hillard and one grandchild.
A memorial service will be held in August at the UH-Manoa Orvis Auditorium. A date has not yet been set. Those with personal stories of the professor emeritus are asked to visit www.trubitt.com/allen.html.