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Jazz Musician George Mesterhazy Remembered

By Susan Tischler April 13th, 2012 374 Comments
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 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

  • Jane Valdes-Dapena

    Words cannot express how stunned and saddened the Carpenter/Priester/Valdes-Dapena family is. After celebrating my father’s 87th birthday at the Merion Inn on Saturday night, and reveling in George’s musical genius as we have so often throughout his presence in Cape May, it is beyond shocking that we will never hear him swing again. Or see his playful grin. Or be lifted up by his enthusiastic greetings and kind words in times of stress in our lives… Our hearts go out to Vicki and everyone at the Merion Inn. Cape May will not be the same.

  • trish

    I didn’t know George personally, but I can say one of our highlights, while in CM, was to sit @ the bar & listen to him …. He will be missed by many for sure. RIP

  • Gail Van Scoyk

    George was my friend who I will dearly miss as so many others will. He was an entertainer who had a passion to touch your heart. He played happy birthday for my 50th & It moved me. When finished he nodded I could feel his heartfelt birthday wish. Last year I showed up for his birthday, we talked at the bar, told stories & as always did. he was a kind, gentle man who enjoyed people. He would make strangers feel comfortable as if he knew you forever. We shared a love for Apple computers & would talk about different software programs. One of his comment to me was the more we talk the more I like you. I said George the more I talk to you, the more I like you, too. He showed his affections freely. One of he last things I remember was him showing me pictures of hid children, he loved them! many people will miss you George~~ See you on the other side~~~~ Gail Van Scoyk

  • Real shocker. Everyone knew George. He andhis music are missed.

  • Karen

    In December of 2011, my husband and I were having a drink at the bar and I requested the theme from Love Story. George played it so beautifully, Cape May will miss this talented man.


  • Ilan Freedman

    George Mesterhazy was a good pianist, and he played mostly jazz music, such as “Linus and Lucy.” The cause of his death is unknown. Did he die at a hospital? I loved his music on You Tube.

  • Marilynn

    He sure made our evening when we stepped out for the night and had the great HONOR of listening to him play at The Merion Inn. There is nothing like a great piano player! We will always think of him now when we go to The Merion Inn. Rest in peace, George.

  • Mark Woods

    Shocked to hear the news of George’s sudden passing. On behalf of my wife, Cathie, we extend our sincere condolences to Vickie and the Merion Inn family. George’s music and friendship was very special to us. During our last visit in August, I asked George to play “Here’s That Rainy Day. Today is that rainy and sad day, you will be surely missed.

  • Lorraine

    What a loss for all of us who loved him and his music. Such a sad day. He will be missed.

  • Mike O’Keefe

    So many wonderful memories of George. The first time my wife and I heard his magic almost 20 years ago. The time he let our son sit in with his alto sax for a couple of tunes at the Merion. And the last time we had the honor of listening to him on April 7 when he played “Mack the Knife” for my wife. We will miss George greatly but remember the joy and pleasure he brought to so many people. Our condolences to Vicki, his family and all of his friends at the Merion and around the world.

  • Miriam and Bob

    George was one of those wonderful, gifted people, whom you feel you have known all your Life! We met him whilst staying for weekends in Cape May over the years, and hearing him play at The Merion Inn……..We loved sitting close to his piano, so as to soak it all in . He just wrapped his heart around Life, had a beautiful smile, an infectious laugh, and graced all of us with his Gift of Music……May God bless his family and friends, WE THANK YOU, George!

  • Sue

    I will forever miss my friend and my piano teacher. How I was so looking forward to our next lesson and our next “hang” . The Merion Inn will never be the same, Cape May never be the same. We shall all treasure our memories and stories of George so he lives on in our memories and days.

  • Dolores & Vincent Fanning

    we just heard of George’s passing and with tears and sorrow we send our condolences to Vickie, his family and friends. George had the special gift of compassion and the ability to share his feelings thru his music, his style and his love. Rest in Peace Sweet Prince and play on with the Angels…………a wonderful talent has been silenced on earth