Remembering Loren Linnard, musician and train lover, whose glass was always half full

Loren Dean Linnard: July 28, 1958 — Dec. 4, 2016

Loren died on Sunday, Dec. 4 after living a year with a malignant brain tumor. His high-school sweetheart, wife and partner of 41 years, Judith Kunitz, was at his side. In addition to Judith, Loren is survived by his son Dean, his mother Bernice, sisters Luanne and Heather, brothers-in-law Evan and Doug, mother-in-law Charlene, sister-in-law Mela, nieces Jessica, Danielle, and Christina, nephew Logan, and countless friends and admirers.

Loren was born in Long Beach, CA, and went to Davis High School where he met Judith who was 2nd flute to his 1st flute in orchestra. He attended the University of Indiana in Bloomington, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Music in 1980 before moving to Berkeley. Loren was an extremely talented musician. He was a pianist, keyboardist, flautist, and composer, not to mention a gifted singer. He performed in numerous orchestras and bands around the Bay area, including Azure, Murazaki Ensemble, Santa Rosa Symphony, Shake, Silver Moon Big Band, Jazz Caliente, Lipsticks, and Soul Power.

He composed a chamber opera Least of My Children, three musical theater pieces including The Chain, and wrote and performed a puppet musical adaptation of John Henry. He arranged music for choral and instrumental groups, including the Sacramento Chorale, the Diablo Valley Philharmonic, and California Jazz Conservatory. He performed music for several East Bay churches, including Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church and Heart and Soul Center of Light. Loren also worked at Forrests Music in Berkeley for 25 years.

Loren loved trains: passenger, freight, logging, and model. He was a great fan and consumer of public transportation and, when traveling, never missed a train or transportation museum. Loren was unfailingly generous in spirit, donating time, expertise, advice, friendship, and praise, as the occasion arose. Loren’s glass was not half full — it was flowing over, even as his life was ebbing away.

Loren accepted his brain tumor, accepted the limitations it imposed on his body and mind, and continued to live his life as he had always lived it: joyfully and with zest. He accepted his diagnosis with a serenity and grace that we all can aspire to but few can hope to achieve. Even in his last days, his main concern was for his wife and son, and he thanked friends and hospital staff for taking care of them, never complaining or asking for anything for himself.

Loren taught us to follow our passions, work hard and show up on time, to stop at every lemonade stand, to listen, and to always make decisions based on what will make your life and the lives of others simpler and better.

Loren’s friends and family would like to thank the staff of Kaiser Hospital, Oakland, and Kaiser Hospice, especially the palliative care team, the nurses, and the patient care technicians, for their kind, sensitive, and compassionate care in his last days.

Please join us for a celebration of Loren’s life on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 at 4:30 p.m. at Heart and Soul Center of Light: 1001 42nd St. Suite 100, Oakland.

Donations in Loren’s honor can be made to:

  • California Jazz Conservatory, Loren Linnard’s Piano Scholarship Fund, 2087 Addison St. Berkeley, CA 94704
  • Little Kids Rock —a non-profit that trains public school teachers and donates all of the instruments, curriculum, and support needed to ensure that children receive the right to rock!