His son Jans Ingber is a charter member of SoulMates. It was on the occassion of SoulMates performing at Jimmy Mak's in Portland during August of 2011 that I got to meet him that one time.
Howard loved those guys in SoulMates. He loved the music but he loved Jay "Bird" Koder, Jarrod Lawson and Reinhardt Melz and, of course, his son Jans. He was thrilled to be present when they performed.
He had a phenomenal record collection and Jans was raised on the best music in the world. But for all that, he said that SoulMates were his favorites. He appreciated their creativity and their dedication and loathed the small payment that such dedicated musicians would receive. "Too little payment for so great a debt." In fact, in a letter he sent to me, he wrote "creating art from integrity is priceless."
We had both been to see the SoulMates' Tribute to Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack in April of 2012. I had written an article reviewing the event at Jimmy Mak's. I have just reread that article and found the following lines. "Howard Ingber is a lovely man who has been dealing with health issues. Howard was in attendance because he loves Donny Hathaway and he loves SoulMates. The words "Take it from me, someday we'll all be free" were sent out to Howard with love. Farnell's melancholy horn solo was a beautiful feature of the song. Howard sat with hands raised and a smile to light up the room."
Howard wrote to me soon after, expressing his gratitude with the words "Thank you for your kind thoughts of me....I appreciate very much your love and support of this band." That was the source of our fellowship--our mutual love and support of SoulMates.
The health issues with which Howard was dealing was pancreatic cancer. He had wrestled with the disease for six months and, as it became clear that it was taking its toll on his energy, Howard offered this meaningful and heartfelt message to those he knew and loved.
First of all thank you for all your kind thoughts and messages. My present finds me in a highly weakened state due to the seemingly inevitable course of my medical condition. Both my daily energy and mobility are dramatically limited, as well as my energy for visiting.
I enjoy your company - that will never change - but please, if you plan on visiting, call our home and speak to Kay or Cedar, and they will relay your wishes to me. I very much enjoy your notes, letters and thoughts, which brighten my day, and will respond either by writing or dictating to my family. We can also talk on the phone by setting up an appropriate time if it feels right for me.
I regret there only seems to be so much energy in what was my normally inexhaustible communication style, but it is what it is.
Much love to you all, Howard
In our last exchange, Howard and I were both looking forward to seeing SoulMates performing a salute to Motown on June 30, 2012. As it turned out, neither of us got to be there and we never got to have the longer talk that we had anticipated. I am diminished because of that loss. I wanted to hear his wisdom and his love of music. He had recommended three great books for my reading pleasure and I have read two of them already. I was anticipating many more exchanges and conversations. As it is, all that remains is an all-too-brief exchange between us.
Yesterday, July 19, 2012, Howard Ingber left us. How can the passing of someone with whom you had one conversation and one brief exchange of letters leave such an obvious hole in the human heart? I suppose the hole is there because of the conversations and shared books that never took place.
Already, the outpouring of affection is so very obvious. Jans had issued a letter on behalf of the family and has received so many replies.
Jans letter of today, July 20, 2012 is as follows:
Friends and Family of Howard Ingber -
Last night Howard crossed the finish line after a long, fulfilling life and 6-month dance with pancreatic cancer. He was surrounded by family and took his last breath with grace and arms wide open.
We could wax on about his life and the impact that it had on so many, but that time will come during our:
Celebration of Life on the 31st of July at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum. It will start at 6PM with a potluck meal, so please bring a dish to share and/or beer. Wine and non-alchoholic beverages will be provided.
At 7 PM we will start with remembrances followed by music provided by The Soulmates
If you are someone whose life Howard has touched, you are welcomed and encouraged to attend.
Whether you will be at the celebration or not we will be collecting photos of Howard. If you have a couple photos with yourself and Howard or just Howard alone, please send them to ...
We love your support and look forward to celebrating Howard with you all.
The family of Howard Ingber
"He took his last breath with grace and arms wide open." What a lovely line. I am certain that it must have been just so.
It makes me smile to know that the music will be by SoulMates, the band that allowed me to meet this remarkable man of grace in the first place.
Fare well, Howard. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.