Music suffers 'a big loss' in death of Deck Hogin

Deck Hogin, one of Modesto's leading jazz musicians for more nearly 70 years, has died of leukemia. He was 87.

Mr. Hogin died Thursday in Modesto, where he was born Jan. 10, 1922.

"He would play anytime, anywhere, for anybody," said George Gardner, who directed him in MoBand, the community band that plays each summer in Graceada Park. "He loved to play."

Mr. Hogin's main instrument was the trumpet, although he also played valve trombone, flugelhorn and vibes. He had his own dance band or orchestra since 1940 and in recent decades was known for his group Hogin's Heroes.

"Musically, it's a big loss," said Modesto bandleader Ernie Bucio. "He's the definition of a working musician in this town since way back when."

Casey Hogin, one of Mr. Hogin's four daughters, said her father grew up in a large musical family that included a few music teachers. She said her father inspired many younger musicians.

"He loved it so much, he made other people love it," she said. "People say he made them a better musician."

Drove teacher 'nuts' over jazz

Mr. Hogin studied under legendary Modesto High School music teacher Frank "Proof" Mancini. He and Mr. Hogin often clashed over jazz. Mancini hated it, but it was Mr. Hogin's passion.

"When I was in high school, I drove that poor man nuts," Mr. Hogin told The Bee in 1982. "I was such a terrible cut-up. I can remember so vividly the many times I would start playing a little jazz during band rehearsals and 'Proof' would just get furious. Sometimes he would even throw a chair in my direction."

After graduating, Mr. Hogin joined the Tut Lombardo Band, which featured an exceptional young piano player named Dave Brubeck. During World War II, Mr. Hogin played in the Navy band, backing up such entertainers as Bob Hope and Jack Benny.

Mr. Hogin returned home after the war and married his high school sweetheart, Leeroyce. He enrolled in the conservatory of music at the College of the Pacific in Stockton (now UOP), but dropped out because the studies were too serious for his taste.

He returned to Modesto, taking a job driving a beer truck. In his free time, he played in bands for charity functions, parties, weddings and the monthly meetings of the Modesto Dixieland Jazz Society, which he helped found.

In 2001, he received a special recognition at the Stanislaus Arts Council Excellence in Arts Awards.

Mr. Hogin was active up until a couple of weeks before he died, Casey Hogin said. He performed at the Barkin' Dog restaurant downtown, played tennis and golfed within the past month.

"It's a great loss," Gardner said. "These people that are a link to the past musical tradition, I really hate to see that go. I'm going to miss him a lot."

In addition to his wife and daughter Casey, Mr. Hogin is survived by his daughters Christy, Cindy and Cathy, who all live in or near Stanislaus County; and six grandchildren.

Casey Hogin said the family hopes to arrange a service in January about the time of her father's birthday. Details have not been finalized.

Bee arts writer Lisa Millegan can be reached at or 578-2313.

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