Kansas University professor emeritus of music, Charles Kelso Hoag, 86, passed away peacefully on June 19, 2018, with his wife of 52 years, Mary Tuven, by his side. He is also survived by two daughters, Isabelle Hoag, Shoreview, Minn., and Andrea Esther Hoag, Lawrence, and four grandchildren, Benjamin and Nathan Gason, and Alana Maria and Miles Kelso Branch. Charley also leaves behind a sister, Dorothy Ruth Peterson, Kalamazoo, Mich., and the nieces and nephews of whom he was so fond: Paul, Bryan, Lisa, Sarah, Andrew, and Daniel. He is preceded in death by his father, Charles Wood Hoag, mother, Margaret Kelso Hoag, and sister, Isabel Hoag Pentony. A celebration of Hoag’s life will take place Saturday, July 7 at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1011 Vermont St, Lawrence, at 1:30 p.m., with a reception to follow in the Parish Hall.
Born in Chicago in 1931, Charles–known to friends as “Chaz” or “Charley”–was raised in Davenport, Iowa, and his enduring love for the Mississippi River sprang from those early days. Charley exhibited a gift for music while he was young, and by the time he was a teenager, he was much in demand as a double bass player, “gigging” around eastern Iowa in jazz bands and orchestras throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s. After graduating from Davenport High School in 1950, he attended the University of Iowa, where his double bass professor, the late Eldon Obrecht, became an important musical mentor and lifelong friend. After college, Charley had the opportunity to tour Europe as principal bassist of the Seventh Army Symphony. Post-army life included two years with the New Orleans Symphony before he returned to graduate school, receiving his master’s degree at the University of Redlands in California, and his PhD in music composition at the University of Iowa. After a stint teaching at Sam Houston University, Charley taught at the University of Oklahoma, and it was during his time playing bass with the Oklahoma City Symphony that he met and married his wife, Mary Tuven, a violist. In 1968, the couple settled in Lawrence, where Charley taught in the Kansas University School of Music for 38 years. In addition to years spent teaching double bass, he was a longtime professor of music theory and composition. Renowned for his challenging tests, Charley was much beloved among students; one semester a group of his admirers collected a notebook full of his funny sayings and presented it to him on the last day of class. Charley was always delighted to hear from his former students, and took great interest in their successes. As one of the chief organizers of Kansas University’s contemporary music symposium, he welcomed composers as diverse as Aaron Copland, Milton Babbitt, and George Crumb to campus. Over the course of his own long career, he had the distinction of earning an NEA Composer Consortium Grant, numerous awards from American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. During the 1980s and 1990s, Charley traveled frequently to hear his music played around the world, and enjoyed a Carnegie Hall premiere of a composition commissioned by the Verdehr Trio, which they later recorded. Charley was granted residencies at both the Millay and MacDowell art colonies and served as conductor of the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra from 1978 to 1993.
In his later years, Charley attended Trinity Episcopal Church and enjoyed lending a hand at the LINK inter-denominational food kitchen. He and Mary attended the Seventh Army Symphony reunions for many years, where they had the pleasure of rekindling past friendships and forging new ones. A natural storyteller, his family delighted in the humorous tales from his life Charley often told at the dinner table. Charley especially loved attending his grandchildren’s sporting events and school music programs, and was at his happiest playing jazz standards at the living room piano. The family wishes to extend particular thanks for the care he received from Dr. Don Hatton, Nurse Peggy Kessel, Dr. Jeffrey Burns, as well as the teams at Aseracare hospice and Bridge Haven. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to fund research at the KU Alzheimer’s Disease Center.