Dr. Gary Lee Zwicky, 77, died on Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012 at his Oak Park home in Belmont Village after a hard-fought battle with Parkinson’s disease. Born on June, 18 1934 in Oshkosh, Wis., he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and his doctor of music arts, the first to be given in organ, from the University of Illinois at Champaign. He was a fellow in the College of Church Musicians at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. and earned the Fellowship of the American Guild of Organists (FAGO), the highest professional degree granted by the guild. In addition, he served as national director of Guild Student Groups for the American Guild of Organists and was organ chairman and superintendent of Syllabus Publications for the Illinois State Music Teachers Association.
Dr. Zwicky, who gave recitals throughout the U.S. and Germany, was a professor of music at Eastern Illinois University from 1966 to 1994 and served as organist and choirmaster at more than 10 churches in Illinois, Texas, Maryland and Massachusetts. After retiring from EIU, he embarked on a second career as organist and choirmaster at Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard and as director of the Vineyard Haven Band. He also played in a jazz trio and brass quintet on Martha’s Vineyard.
One of his greatest pleasures was playing keyboard recital duets with his wife, Elaine. Dr. Zwicky and Elaine enjoyed many years of retirement on Martha’s Vineyard before moving to Oak Park in 2009.
In recent years, he took up genealogy, tirelessly researching his and his wife’s families so his children and grandchildren would know their roots.
Dr. Zwicky was survived by his wife, Elaine until her untimely death on April 21, 2012; his children, Fred (Elise) Zwicky and Jeanette (Gregg) Simon; his grandchildren, Megan, Kristen and Sean Zwicky and Hunter and Winston Simon; his brother, Warren Zwicky; his brother-in-law, Norman (Stephanie Crissman) Bauer; and his many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, George and Bessie (Widmer) Zwicky; and his siblings, Betty Jane Zwicky Bauer and LaVerne Zwicky.
Cremation arrangements were handled by Gamboney and Son in Oak Park. A Celebration of Life Mass will be held at 10:30 a.m., April 28, at Grace Episcopal Church, 924 Lake St., in Oak Park for both Mr. and Mrs. Zwicky.
Memorials may be given to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Church Street Station, P.O. Box 780, New York, NY 10008 or to the Vineyard Haven Band at P.O. Box 2187, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.