Personal Interest

Larry David Minick Passes

By Kathe Tanner • January 01, 1997 • 3 min read

With the recent death of Larry David Minick, 55, the world of music lost a genius and master craftsman, and Cambria lost a curmudgeon-in-training.

At his memorial service on Jan. 17, family, friends and musicians came together to remember the man they loved, who tried so hard to portray a crusty, cranky tinkerer.

In fact, he was a gentle man who adored his family, enjoyed his friends and was a master with any sort of brass instrument. He took great glee in being a consummate practical joker and delighted in teasing his daughter, Colleen Spiller, the rest of his family and his pals. Larry Minick invented instruments and innovative parts for them, and was known worldwide for his tubas and trombones, horns, piccolos and more. He restored them, repaired them and loved them. His shop in 'Tin Village' was legendary for Minick's apparently random filing system, in which he could find the smallest instrument part in an instant.

Larry David Minick died Jan. 12, 1999, at a Templeton Hospital. Cremation has taken place. Rev. Jamie Evans officiated at the service and gave a eulogy written by longtime Minick friend and associate Lt. Phillip Smith.

The owner of Minick's Musical Instrument Co. of Cambria, Minick and his wife, Doreen, rebuilt and restored classic cars and antiques. But his life's work was musical instrument design, modification and restoration. His handmade brass-instrument parts are known to musicians around the world, many of whom, from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Opera and Symphony and even a Norway symphony, had sought him out for help with their instruments at his Cambrian shop, where he had worked for almost 12 years.

A brass choir of seven professional musicians, mostly from the Los Angeles area, journeyed to Cambria to play at the memorial service for the man who had worked on their instruments and become their friend. Minick described his handmade method of molding instruments, starting with sheet metal and manually hammering them into shape, as "... the old fashioned way. The very archaic way."

He was born Aug. 13, 1943, in Santa Monica and had attended Santa Monica High School and Santa Monica College. He attended school with a young lady named Doreen Harper, whom he would marry about 15 years after both had graduated from high school.

Minick was the principal tuba player with the 583rd Air Force Band, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, from 1964 to 1968. His musical instrument designs often broke new ground. He was the first person to develop the "open wrap" concept for trombones and nylon ball and socket linkages for rotary valves on trombones. Both of these designs are used by current major musical instrument manufacturers, wife Doreen reports. She says the Conn/UMI and Yamaha musical instrument companies currently use his three-port rotary valves on trombones; and the CG Conn company sought out Minick's design expertise during the late 1970s and early 1980s, resulting in the Conn 100H, 110H and 112H trombones.

Doreen Minick also said that her husband developed a line of trombone and tuba mouthpieces used by many top players, as well as a line of trombone leadpipes. A dual-key tuba and a single-trigger, dual-action rotary valve for the trombone were also Minick creations. Often commissioned to build unusual instruments for professional musicians, Minick designed and built an entire choir of trombones, from contra bass to piccolo, which no one else has done, his wife said. "He truly provided musicians with musical instruments that were both state-of-the-art as well as pieces of art." she said. A devoted husband, father and grandfather, he is survived by his wife, Doreen Minick of Cambria; a daughter, Colleen Spiller and husband Richard and children Blake, Grant and Paige all of Cambria. Also his stepfather Kenneth Ollenberger of Santa Monica.

A memorial concert is being planned in Los Angeles. The Larry David Minick memorial scholarship will be announced at this concert.

Arrangements were by Reis Chapel in Cayucos.

Used by permission, ©The Cambrian