As principal of Washington Elementary School in the 1960s, Herb Wong, center right, seen here with Duke Ellington, invited world-class big bands to perform for students. Photo: Suzanne McCullough
As principal of Washington Elementary School in the 1960s, Herb Wong, center right, seen here with Duke Ellington, invited world-class big bands to perform for students. Photo: Suzanne McCullough

Herb Wong, the founding father of  the pioneering jazz program at Berkeley’s schools, died on Sunday April 20, 2014. He was 88.

In an obituary published today on Berkeleyside, Sarah Cline, Jazz Program Director at Berkeley High School, remembers the visionary principal of Washington Elementary School who believed in jazz education for young children — as music education, as a part of the civil rights movement, and as a way of propagating a democratic and artistic spirit — and who brought famous jazz musicians, including Duke Ellington and Oscar Peterson, to give concerts at the school.

Feel free to share your messages of condolence and/or memories of Herb Wong in the comments on the Obituaries page, where you will also find details of a memorial service.

Berkeleyside is always honored to publish, at no cost, obituaries of members of the Berkeley community. Please email text and photo(s) to editors@berkeleyside.com.

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...