“Music is my life”. John J. Carlos spoke these words two weeks before he passed away on November 4th, 2016.
John was born October 20, 1929 in Lawrence, the son of Don Fredrick and Elsie (Forrest) Carlos. He attended Lawrence public schools but graduated from Maur Hill High School in Atchison, KS.
St. Benedict’s, a private Catholic college, offered John a trumpet scholarship. He attended St. Benedict’s and then Kansas University majoring in trumpet and drawing and painting. An oil painting of stone structures on the original Stouffer Place, a farm at 19th and Iowa Street, was one of his best works.
He was a member of Phi Mu Alpha, an honorary music fraternity. Leaving KU after three years to launch The John Carlos Combo where he arranged music and dance job dates with the Combo, appearing at nearly every fraternity and sorority in this area along with local restaurants and clubs. In 1960 John moved to the east coast and became a professional musician performing musician returning to Lawrence after the death of his father where he resumed arranging and playing. For decades, he played with various local bands: Junkyard Jazz, the Lawrence City Band, New Horizons Band, River City Six and others.
Devout Catholics, the Carlos family managed the choir at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church during the 1940’s with John’s father directing, his mother playing the organ, with family and parishioners often singing elaborate High Masses. The family told the story of how cold the church was during choir practice and the only heat to be had was from one disc shaped heater that glowed orange. John continued to sing in the St. John’s Choir until this last year.
In the early 1960’s, at a protest march outside of the United Nations building in New York City, John chose to carry a large sign that said: “Go KU—Beat Mizzoo”. One of New York’s finest understood, laughed but thought he should perhaps move on.
John’s one sister, Patricia Koehler (William) passed away in 2009 and his older brother, Don Forrest Carlos (Jackie) is alive and well in Glendale, CA. Five local nieces and nephews include Mary Lynn Stuart (Jim), Michael Koehler (Karen), David Koehler, Joan Elder (Jeff) and Wendy Koerner (Larry). He is also survived by special people, friends, Reese and Angie Nordhus, Bob Steinlage and longtime special lady, Suzanne Wolf.
John Jerome Carlos lived a simple life. He formed educated opinions on political issues and never missed a chance to speak of those issues or rail against refined white sugar and enriched white flour. He had a quick wit; and amazing way with words, a profound love of the Church with a special devotion to the sacred heart of Jesus, and was one fine musician.
There will be a rosary at 6:00 p.m. Thursday, November 17, 2016 with a visitation to follow until 8:00 p.m. at Warren-McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence.
A Funeral Mass will be held at 10:00 a.m. Friday, November 18, 2016 at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church. A private family inurnment will be held at a later date at Mt. Calvary Cemetery.
Memorials may be made in his name to a charity of donor’s choice and may be sent in care of the Warren-McElwain Mortuary.