Berklee Today

Final Cadence

  Jeronimas Kacinskas
  Jeronimas Kacinskas

Saxophonist Emmett Simmons '60 of Cambridge, MA, died of lung cancer on August 31. He was 66. Born in Kinston, NC, Simmons began his career playing the Chitlin' Circuit backing such artists as Etta James and Otis Redding. During the 1960s, he toured as part of James Brown's horn section but decided to leave the road after his son Omar was born. Simmons played locally at night and worked days as a laborer for the Cambridge Department of Public Works. Emmett's wife, Ercelle, passed away last year. Their son Omar lives in Chicago.

Trombonist Michael Gibson '64 of Dover, NJ, succumbed to lung cancer on July 15. He was 60. Gibson became well known for his orchestration of music for Broadway shows and received two Tony Award nominations. Gibson orchestrated Broadway show Grease in 1972 and later worked on the music for the film version. Other shows Gibson had worked on include Kiss of the Spider Woman, Roseland, and Still of the Night. He leaves his wife, Ellen, and a son.

Ron Bentley '69  
Ron Bentley '69  

Ronald Bentley '69 of Concord, MA, died on September 15. He was 60. After graduating from Berklee in 1969, Bentley became a member of the guitar department faculty. He later served in several leadership positions at the college and was an associate vice president for insititutional research at the time of his passing. He leaves his wife Joann.

Donald Frates '69 of Encinitas, CA, died April 26 after a long battle with lymphoma. He was 55. He was born in Fairhaven, MA, and attended Berklee and the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. He was a professor at the Army and Navy Academy. Frates leaves his wife Kate.

Tom Sheehan '75 of New York City, passed away on May 8. He was 56. Sheehan was a well-regarded piano tuner and worked as a piano technician for numerous jazz and classical artists including Herbie Hancock, Lyle Mays, and Ahmad Jamal. Sheehan taught piano tuning at Berklee in the late 1970s.

Guitarist and songwriter Shawn Hollis '83 of Groton, CT, passed away on June 17 at home. He was 40. In addition to playing and writing his own music, Hollis was employed by Stop & Shop.

Saxophonist Joseph Burton '84 of Lynn, MA, died unexpectedly on August 22 in Lowell. He was 62. Burton was a member of the Boston Musicians Association and had been employed by the Middlesex County Department of Corrections in Billerica for 18 years. He leaves his wife Linda, two sons, two daughters, and five grandchildren.

Kevin McAuliffe '84 of Weymouth, MA, died on July 2 in Boston. He was 43. McAuliffe was a self-employed painter and played the guitar.

Kevin Berkeley Powers '04 of Middlebury, VT, died at his home on July 15. He was 20. A gifted guitarist, Powers won the Downbeat magazine guitar competition when he was 14 years old. He had performed throughout Vermont and recorded a CD with the band Fall Lineup.

Former faculty member and a revered composer and conductor, Jeronimas Kacinskas of South Boston, MA, died September 22. He was 98. Born in Lithuania, Kacinskas fled his country during WW II and came to the United States in 1949 (click here for more details). Kacinskas taught at Berklee from 1967 to 1986. He leaves his wife Elena.

Former faculty member Frank Nizzari of Needham, MA, died on July 21. He was 66. A bassoonist, Nizzari had played with the Handel and Haydn Society, the Cantata Singers, and other groups, and was a guest artist with the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops orchestras. He leaves his wife Marcia, six children, and four grandchildren.