• Farewell to Annie Kuebler, Master Jazz Archivist

    August 16, 2012. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Tim Wilkins contributed to this post.

    WBGO's dear friend Annie Kuebler died on Monday, August 13, in Atlantic City. Annie had been an Archivist at the Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University, Newark, from 2000 until February of this year, when she resigned because of declining health. Before she came to the IJS, Annie worked with the Duke Ellington collection at the Smithsonian Institution.

    Annie had countless friends, and was “one of the best jazz archivists out there,” says Tad Hershorn, a colleague at the IJS. Annie was an excellent project manager, she read music, trained students and volunteers and – as we all sensed or knew – became very important to the day-to-day atmosphere at the Institute. “Brassy, funny, irreverent,” is how Tad describes her. Other words immediately spring to mind: generous, thoughtful and kind.

    To read Annie's story as written for the Institute of Jazz Studies by Hershorn, click here.

    Farewell, Annie, we will miss you! If you have memories of Annie you would like to share, please add them to our comments section, and we will be adding to this online tribute in coming days, so come back and visit us again.

    Annie Kuebler (right) with Lila Duckett on November 9, 2007, photo by Ed Berger

    Annie's position at Rutgers-Newark was first funded by a National Endowment for the Humanities grant. She was so good that when the grant ran out, the Institute kept finding ways to keep her.

    Annie with visitors at the IJS
    Annie with visitors at the IJS

    Annie’s major project at the IJS was the Mary Lou Williams archive. Those of us who have seen it appreciate the scale. Williams saved everything for decades -- dresses and purses, albums, scores, countless penciled lists and  notes to herself,  even a hand-written letter to her from me in 1980.

    Cocktail napkins and notes from the Mary Lou Williams collection
    Cocktail napkins and notes from the Mary Lou Williams collection

    With Mary Lou's collection, as well as the James P. Johnson archive, Annie always turned "countless" into "catalogued" and knew the value, location, the story of each item. She did this with the help of devoted students and interns.

    People loved working with her. Her young colleague Joe Peterson says he is taking some "comfort in the fact that if Annie had any questions about Duke or Mary, she now has the answers from the source[s].”

    How she went from being a single mother of four and a part-time bartender to all of the above, I don’t know. She encountered a near fatal fire along the way, and it scarred her for life but did not seem to scar her spirit. She was upbeat and animated, smart.

    She is survived by her mother in Baltimore, four children (three sons and a daughter) and her Institute of Jazz Studies family, plus many admirers and friends.

    A Mass will be given to honor her memory at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, 200 Ware Avenue, Towson, Maryland at 10 a.m. Tuesday, August 28, with another to be held at St. Bartholomew of the Apostle Church, 2032 Westfield Avenue, Scotch Plains, New Jersey at 11 a.m. on Saturday, September 15.