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Lambert Funeral Home

OBITUARY

Selwyn Claude Gonsoulin

August 17, 1924September 13, 2020

Selwyn Claude Gonsoulin

This is a conversation about Selwyn Claude Gonsoulin. He was a salesman and musician. He sold his wares and he sold his music. He was successful at both.

Sel had not been feeling well for several months. When he said that he could no longer taste “the frim fram sauce with the Ausen Fay with shafafa on the side,” I knew he was sick.

Selwyn’s ailment, Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer, metastasized to the liver and abdominal lymph nodes, was diagnosed on his 96th birthday, 17 August. He survived 27 days. There was a diminuendo to his respiration, then a deep sigh as he left us with a hint of a smile on his lips. Undoubtedly, Selwyn had a song in his heart.

Selwyn’s life began in Plaquemine, Louisiana. He was the first of four children born to Claude and Myra. He is survived by sisters, Jewel Ann Boyd and Gayle Gonsoulin Landry, and predeceased by brother, Clark Gray Gonsoulin. He remembered his childhood with fondness. He was a graduate of Plaquemine High School, Class of 1941, with friendships which endured a lifetime. He considered himself fortunate to have two lovely sisters who treated him so well. He often said, “I am a lucky man.”

He served in the United States Navy in WWII. At the West Coast Sound School, he was a 20 year old Seaman 2nd Class, soon to become a Sonar Technician, who scored above those older and with higher ranks. His great ear, intelligence, and attention to detail served him well.

After WWII, Selwyn settled in California, where he started a family and career. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Sacramento State College in 1949, the first graduating class. He has “The Statesman” yearbook to prove it. He and his first wife, Ardith, (deceased) had two children, Steven Curtis and Cheryl Joyce.

He initiated his professional pursuits at major companies. These included Montgomery Ward, Metropolitan Life, RCA and Magnavox. As a Regional Manager for The Magnavox Company, he was consistently a top producer, developing territories and clients, and engendering respect and confidence from dealers with his straightforward approach. Selwyn was a lifelong man of his word. Rewards and recognition allowed him to retire early and pursue the pleasure of playing the music he always enjoyed.

Selwyn retired in 1981. Now he could pursue his passion for music. His introduction to music began with a piano lesson as a young boy. Exhibiting some reluctance at the first lesson, the crusty old maid of an instructor pulled his hair. “That was it,” he related, “my first and last piano lesson.” He started trumpet in late elementary school through high school, never learning to read music as he relied on his ear to carry him through. He put away his trumpet until the 1980’s, when he joined the American Legion Post 61 Dance Band. He realized that if he wanted to stay in the band, he needed to learn to read music. He joined their concert band, played in a combo, After Five, took private lessons, practiced, and quickly learned to read music. He accrued 40 consecutive years of playing experience. The last 20 years was his peak; leading his own swing band, The 30’s-40’s-50’s Dance Band. Trumpet is familiar to his family as his Uncle Tommy Gonsoulin played professionally for Gene Krupa, Harry James and Jack Teagarden.

In 1983, Selwyn met his current wife, Kelli. They shared a love for music. Two years later, they were married. They had no children but rescued furry family members throughout the years. Sel is survived by Blake, their loving and intuitive English Springer Spaniel; predeceased by Sofay, Buffa, Rocky, Ooly, Lucy, Fearless, Fosdick, Caesar, Cleo, and Fetor, their polydactyl cat.

In 2000, Selwyn formed The 30’s-40’s-50’s Dance Band. He wielded the baton, played trumpet, flugelhorn, cornet, valve trombone, scat sang, and performed vocals. He often acknowledged, “The band and music have been the driving force of my life since retirement. Everyone has a different reason for playing music. Mine is the sheer enjoyment of recreating the music of the ‘30’s, ‘40’s and ‘50’s, which I think is the best American music of the last hundred years.” Band members often got “the finger.” This was Sel’s way of choosing soloists to improvise on choruses. Several band members have been with the group since 2000. The musicians became a treasured extended family. Everyone helped at rehearsals and gigs, and the camaraderie was phenomenal. Sel took pleasure in every minute with this fine group. They helped fulfill a dream. Selwyn never imagined that he could lead a swing band. Dreams do come true.

As a memento for the band in 2006, they recorded a CD of 12 tunes, all first takes, in the garage during a rehearsal. It was entitled, “Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler,” “Let The Good Times Roll.” With the band’s esprit de corps, Sel vowed to keep the music playing as long as the spirit lives. We plan to do just that in his memory.

Here are some “Thank you’s.”

Heartfelt appreciation is extended to members and subs of The 30’s-40’s 50’s Dance Band. Telephone calls, cards and letters meant so much. Sel expressed such joy in knowing that there was a mutual passion for swing music with so many of you. Your kind, caring words and fond memories shall be treasured now and forever. Thank you a million times over. We viewed video recordings from prior gigs and his eyes lit up as he sang along. Thank you all for the musical journey we shared. I am hopeful that we can keep the music playing. Selwyn would dig that.

To friends and family who called to check on Selwyn, we thank you dear Larry, Fran, Lloyd, Marti, Kas, Ferdinand, Mike, Marvin, Ted, Gerry, Arleigh, Dick, Bob, Ron, Dale, Cat, Richard, Marrie, Katie, Anthony, Jewel Ann and Gayle. It meant more than you will ever know.

Thank you Sutter Hospice. Your compassionate guidance assisted in our final, elusive Long Day’s Journey Into Night.

Dear James Beckett, M.D., thank you for close to three decades of exemplary medical care as Selwyn’s primary care physician. Your concern and attention during the last three weeks were especially helpful in keeping Selwyn as comfortable as possible. You are the best, and we so appreciate your professionalism and compassion.

Thank you Daniel VanHamersveld, M.D. for over two decades as Selwyn’s cardiologist. We were elated that you attended a couple of the band’s performances. He so enjoyed his conversations with you. He never let a song go out of his heart.

A loving familial thank you goes to the best sisters, Selwyn said, he could ever have. Your calls and reminiscences always made his day. He dearly loved both of you.

And a personal thank you goes to Selwyn, for 37 years as a husband and best friend, from whom I learned a great deal. You taught me so much about a lot of things, business, family, friends, integrity, not the least of which was the universal language of music. A note’s a note in any language, and if it speaks to the heart and they dig it, that’s what makes it beautiful. We shared lots of laughs, some tears, and a few highs and lows along our journey. I hope the good that we saw in each other prevailed.

“Something very strange and mystic happened to me Something realistic and as weird as can be Something that I feared, somehow is now endeared to me And what a funny feeling, odd and yet so true Did a thing like this ever happen to you?

Did you ever see a dream walking? Well, I did. Did you ever see a dream talking? Well, I did.”

Thanks for the memories, my dearest Selwyn.

This is not a eulogy. It is a brief history of a special man.

Services

No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.

Memories

Selwyn Claude Gonsoulin

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Cat Spece

September 29, 2020

I met Sel at Sac City College in the early or mid 90s. I was returning to school to complete my degree. I met him in the jazz band. I was really nervous because I had not played for a long time and definitely not jazz. Sel was always cool, calm and collected. He gave me much kind support and encouragement. I will always be grateful for that and its memory. I was really impressed with Sel’s easy soloing on trumpet and found out he could sing too. I loved his singing.
The jazz band was preparing for a concert. Sel told me his wife was attending and would introduce us. That night he pointed her out in the audience. She looked very familiar and I asked her name. He said Kelli. It turned out that Kelli was my band mate from a band we were both in, probably more than 10 years before. Since meeting Sel and the reunion with Kelli, we remained friends.
I will always have a fond memory of Sel. To me, he was kind, supportive and generous. There was an ease about him and he was a gentleman.


K G

September 27, 2020

K G

September 27, 2020

K G

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Kelli G

September 27, 2020

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