April 10, 1922 – March 26, 2019
Hollis Hassell, Sr., took his first breath in the dusty town of Alto, Texas on April 10, 1922 to the proud parents of the late Robert Hassell and Sudie Singletary. He tapped out after breathing the cool breeze of the Pacific Ocean on March 26, 2019. Hollis was raised in the southwest desert of Yuma, Arizona where he met and married his childhood sweetheart of 75 years, Eugenia Dees. Their union produced seven siblings Newgene Hassell(died in birth), Hollis Hassell, Jr., and Eugene Hassell are deceased, while Harold Hassell, Marjorie Smith and the twins Joshlyn Brown and Joshua Hassell are left to carry on the legacy. Hollis’s greatest passion was playing music. He has played since the age of 12. He attended Yuma High School , class of 1942. During that time he learned to play the alto saxophone and the trumpet. The story has been told that he had played the trumpet so hard that he hurt his throat and had to retire from playing wind instruments. So, then he moved on to master the piano and drums. All by being self-taught. Hollis Hassell’s musical career began in Yuma, Arizona where he played for several bands as a drummer and he even had the pleasure to play and practice with a notable band known as “The Count Basie Band.” He later turned down an offer to stay with the band because Mr. Basie wanted to do a lot of traveling out of town. Hollis didn’t want to leave his wife alone with six children to raise on her own. He felt that a strong male figure was needed around the house. In 1951, Hollis moved his family to San Diego, California where he obtained a government job and became a civil service employee, working his way up from a janitorial position to a position as an aircraft tow man at North Island. He worked on his government job during the day and enjoyed playing music for various groups and bands at night like The Walter Fuller Trio and the Fro Brigham Band. After working for 33 years for the government, it was time to call it quits. Since retirement, at nearly 97 years of life he continued to play music at different convalescence homes and health care centers. He found joy in seeing people perk up when they would hear his music. He also played with different bands at the San Diego County Fairs and at various functions like weddings, political conferences and dinners. Hollis was a true hustler. He also started janitorial and carpet cleaning businesses. Back in 2002, he was inducted into the African American Hall of Fame. In 2018, he retired after 20 plus years from playing in the band at the Seaside Church of Religious Science in Encinitas. Just recently. he was being recognized by the Musicians Association #135 for being the oldest living member of the association. Now Hollis can play in the heavenly realm amongst the angels and no longer have to worry about missing a gig because of illness. Hollis leaves to cherish his memory his loving wife, Eugenia Hassell, Harold Hassell, Marjorie Smith, Joshlyn Brown and Joshua Hassell, stepsisters, Ewell Rideau, and Thelma Nash; daughters in-law, Sofia Hassell and Leticia Hassell, son in-law, Jerry Brown, grandchildren, Herlinda and Ike Wilson (in-law), James, Hassell, Rex Hassell, Bryant and Brandee Hassell(in-law), Jolie Oliverio and Judy Eady, Jennie and Duane Glasgow(in-law), and Angela Hassell and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, grandchildren, great grandchildren,and great great grandchildren.
- Visitation Friday, April 5, 2019
- Celebration of Life Friday, April 5, 2019
April 4, 2019
Hollis was a gifted musician who played "Gigs" with my father Winfred Stewart and Erving Groves. I have fond memories of listening to Hollis play his drums, singing and his different sounds from his synthesizer . He was definitely a great musician who loved his music. My father stayed in touch with his friend, by making phone calls as often as possible. I can only imagine the great .Jam Sessions that are going on in Heaven.... Rest peacefully Hollis
Janice Groves Todd
April 4, 2019
Hollis used to play the drums with my Dad , Ervin Groves Jr. Along with Winfred Stewart on bass.
52 years ago the trio used to practice music in our living room. Our family had known Hollis most of our lives. I had the pleasure of seeing him in the last few years. He was blessed with longevity. I admired the way Hollis took loving care of his wife. He played music for us sang and blessed us with one of his CDs.
Hollis's children were blessed with a true family man as a father.