Jazz Musician George Mesterhazy Remembered

George Mesterhazy

George Mesterhazy. Photograph by Sharon Stabley

It was standing room only at the Middle Township Performing Arts Center Sunday, April 15 as friends and family members  gathered for  a memorial service for jazz musician George Mesterhazy.

Fellow musicians remembered George in fitting tribute. Among them clarinetist Joe Barrett, pianist Barry Miles, bassist Tom Lekan and drummer Bob Shomo who  comprised the group that played jazz on Thursday nights at the Merion Inn, where George played piano when not on the road.   Rev. Kathy Stoner-Lasala and former Cape May resident and vocalist Derrick McQueen offered the invocation and remarks.

San Francisco vocalist Paula West flew in for the service. George collaborated with Paula in recent years. They played several gigs around the country including the Algonquin Hotel in New York. Also in attendance was cabaret singer Paula Johns who played with George off and on for nearly three decades.

George died in his sleep at his home in Cape May. He is survived by his long-time companion Vicki Watson, owner of the Merion Inn; his children: Robert and Tanya Mesterhazy; Ben and Dan Thieberger; their mother and his friend Lisa Thieberger; and his dad, Lajos Mesterhazy.

The music in Cape May died Thursday, April 12 with the sudden passing of jazz musician George Mesterhazy, just days after celebrating his 59th birthday. His loss will be felt for a very long time.

Like so many others, I considered George a good friend. He was a kind and generous soul who dedicated his life to his passion – music.  I cannot think of anyone who had as much influence over the lives of the people who live here and who visit here than George. As one close friend and fellow musician said of him, “Everything that I love about Cape May just died.”

Here at CapeMay.com and Cape May Magazine, our hearts go out to George’s family. We hope that, in time, his music will heal us in our sorrow just as it rejuvenated us in the joy we felt as we walked into the Merion Inn, and before we even turned the corner knew that George was at the piano.

Susan Tischler, editor

For more about George Mesterhazy, read The Man, The Music, The Merion Inn