James J. Hewitt

James J. Hewitt

James J. Hewitt, the ‘Music Man’, who loved music and playing the trumpet which in turn was the catalyst that would affect Jim’s entire life, died peacefully on Wednesday, August 12th in the morning at Bronson Methodist Hospital.

Jim was born on November 22, 1928 to James and Vera (McKinney) Hewitt in New Philadelphia, Ohio. He had an older brother Edward. Jim began playing the trumpet in the 8th grade, and as the saying goes ‘the rest is history’. He went on to play in many dance bands as he got older. Jim served in the Air Force during the Korean Conflict, but was assigned to be in the Air Force Band. He graduated from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music in 1952. He went on to obtain a Master’s Degree in Education at Wayne State University in 1959. In 1953 he married the first love of his life, Miriam ‘Mimi’ Bauer and that year he also began his 32 years of band directing. Jim’s first directing position was in Marine City, Michigan. He moved to Flint North Western in 1964 and continued there until he moved to Otsego Public Schools in 1973, where he was employed until his retirement in 1985. The American Legion Band of Holland was his musical home where he played trumpet for 20 years. He was also in the Grand Rapids Symphonic Band for 7 years. Music was Jim’s life and he has touched countless musicians of all ages. He has taught private trumpet lessons for years in the Otsego Schools and the surrounding area, and also in his home. During the 1982-83 school year Jim formed the Otsego-Plainwell Community Band. It was set up as an outreach of the Community Education Department of the Otsego Public Schools. The name was changed in 2005 to the River Cities Concert band. Jim’s good friend, Plainwell band director, Donald Agne had a choir, so they worked out a deal where Jim sang in his choir and in turn Donald played in Jim’s band. Jim’s professional memberships include the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association, the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles and the American School Band Director’s Association, where he served as President. In addition to those mentioned, Jim was a Charter Member of the Hope Lutheran Church in Plainwell. He was heavily involved with the Plainwell Music Society, even holding the office of President for a time. Wherever Jim lived he was an active member of the local Lion’s Club. Although a member of American Legion Post #84 in Otsego, he assisted the VFW Post #3030 with bugle details for funerals. Jim volunteered his time to travel all over the area just to play TAPS, not only in Otsego and Plainwell, but Martin, Kalamazoo, Allegan, Gobles, Battle Creek and Fennville.

Jim’s wife Mimi passed away after a long and courageous battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. Jim was to meet Patti Khodl in an office setting. She was his doctor’s nurse. Neither were ‘looking’, but due to the urging of Dr. Ana Frunza and nurse, Cathy Fritz they were instrumental in getting Jim and Patti together. On March 25, 2006 they married in the Otsego Methodist Church. In spite of their 20 year age difference they ‘hit it off’ and enjoyed their life together. They created their own little family with dog Bucky (named because Jim is an Ohio State fan) and with cats Chloe, Emily and Holly. Jim is survived by 2 children, Mike of Chicago, IL and Mary Beth (Chad) Premeau of Merrill, WI; a granddaughter, Kayla Premeau of Milwaukee, WI and a grandson, Mischa Premeau of Milwaukee, WI.

Cremation has taken place and a Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, September 19, 2015 at 1:00 p.m. at the Performing Arts Auditorium of the Otsego High School. *Please note: If any former concert band alumni wish to come and sit in with the River Cities Concert Band, you are more than welcome to participate. Please contact Dave Hubbard at (269) 692-2155.* Memorial gifts may be made to the River Cities Concert Band, the Otsego Methodist Church or to the charity of your choice. If you wish to remember Jim otherwise, do so with a kind deed or word to someone who needs you. Messages of condolence may be posted at www.WinkelFuneralHome.com


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Messages of Condolence

  1. David E. Smith says:

    Jim and I were friends for decades as fellow school band directors. He was always a gentle and firm individuals as was willing to go out of his way to assist others- truly selfless. I will miss having good conversations with him in the future, and the support he afforded to me as a music publisher.

  2. Betty Pritchett says:

    I am so sorry,but glad you had over nine years with Jim.
    I am glad I got to see you & Jim when I was in MI a few years ago. He was my daughter’s band teacher. A great teacher & man. She sends her condolences also.
    I hope you find comfort in your wonderful memories of your time together.

  3. Lisa Sutton says:

    Patty, I am so sad to read this, Mr. Hewitt was my band director in High School. I was so happy for you when.I heard you had found the love of your life. May your precious memories he’ll you through this difficult time. He was a good man and an asset to this area and will be remembered fondly by many people. You are in my thoughts.

  4. Lori (Buttery ) Allard says:

    I am so sorry to hear about Mr. Hewitt’s passing. He touched so many lives and I have such fond memories of my marching band times with him. 🙂

  5. Angel Clark (Class of 1980) says:

    Mr. Hewitt was and always will be such a huge part of Otsego Public Schools. May you lead the band in Heaven my friend ^i^

  6. John & Diane Glessner says:

    Dear Patti,
    We are saddened to hear of Jim’s passing. We were hoping he would pull through again like he has before. Our heartfelt prayers are being sent your way and we hope the wonderful memories and time you spent together will help with your sorrow. May the strength of our Lord be with you. With Love, John & Diane

  7. Jon Nichols says:

    It is with profound sadness that I acknowledge Jim’s passing. He was a friend and mentor to me during my early teaching career, and was particularly helpful to me in his role as president and national office manager of the American School Band Directors Association.

    We have lost an educator of distinction, a friend for all seasons, and a man worthy of respect. James Hewitt’s life was indeed one well spent.

    Jon P. Nichols
    Wyoming Rogers High School, retired

  8. sherri riley class of 80 says:

    Mr. Hewitt was my band instructor and gave me private lessons he taught me so much. PATTI WE NEVER MET BUT U HAD ONE HECK OF A GOOD MAN. I am sorry for your loss Prayers to you and the family

  9. MiChele (McDonald) Ferrier says:

    Patti- I’m so sorry to hear of Jim’s passing. He meant SO much to SO many people. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. He is playing trumpet for The Lord now!
    In Christ,
    MiChele Ferrier

  10. Rick Powers says:

    Sad news in deed , was a great band leader , always pushing his students to pursue higher goals in life and in music prayers to your family and friends .

  11. Janelle Turner Oberhill says:

    Please accept my condolences. Jim was one of my heroes at OHS. Always a smile. Used to love his stories about teaching in Flint! My prayers are with your family.

  12. Sydne (Hess) Suzuki says:

    I am so sorry to hear,
    Capt. K, Mr. Hewitt, Jim, one of the best band directors around. Thank you for all your support for many, many years. You will be missed dearly.

  13. Kevin Brown (Saxophone '77) says:

    I’m sorry to learn of Mr. Hewitt’s passing. I was in the freshman class his first year at Otsego, and played four years under his tutelage.

    Many fond memories and funny stories. My wife Dawn (Clarinet ’79) and I just shared a laugh about one last week. Jim lives on in the memories of many.

  14. American Legion Post 84 says:

    Legionnaire Jim Hewitt was a member of our post for around 13 years. Legionnaire Hewitt will always be remembered as a gentle, kind, and patriotic person. He always talked about his band, his community, our veterans, our country, and the Detroit Tigers. I cant think of one time in the 13 years that I knew him, that I heard a negative word about this man from anyone. Jim performed as a Bugler for Legion Post 84 ,and was equally loved by the members of VFW 3030, where he also blew bugle (TAPS) at hundreds of funerals throughout the years for our local veterans. Jim Hewitt was a one of a kind person that will be missed not only by his family, but the entire local community. Speaking for Post 84 and myself, We will miss Jim’s smiling face at out meetings, and our morning breakfast clutch. GOD BLESS you and your family my friend. and may GOD hold you near. “TILL WE MEET AGAIN”.
    Dave Delemme- Allegan County Commander- Post 84 Public Relations.

  15. Shelley Campbell and Family says:

    We are so Sorry for your loss.Mr.Hewitt was a Good Man and a Good Band Teacher.You are in are thoughts and prayers

  16. Patricia Wilcox says:

    I am so sorry to hear that Jim has passed away. I taught with him for many years at Otsego. A truly Great man, band director, lover of music, family man, and dedicated teacher!! I am happy for the time you got to share together. I will miss his smile!!
    In my thoughts and prayers,

  17. Gary E. Burd says:

    I have so many stories I could tell about Jim. He only kicked me out of band 6 times, of which I may have deserved 5. He was so much more than a music teacher, as I fortunately was able to discover later in life. Truly a wonderful friend whom I will miss.

    ~RIP Captain~


  18. Anne Carlyle says:

    My love, prayers and sympathy are with you and your family, Patti. I pray that the Lord will shower you with His comfort and peace as He holds Jim in His arms.

    With love,

  19. Larry and Kathy Peterson says:


    So sorry to hear of Jims passing our prayers and sympathy are with
    you and your family at this time

    With our love

    Larry and Kathy Peterson

  20. Karen Koehn says:

    May God bless you with strength and love in this hard time, now & always Patti. Prayers to you.

  21. Dawn waters says:

    Patti, I am so sorry to hear of your husbands passing. I did not know him personally, but know you and how much he meant to you. I’m sure you have wonderful memories and he will be in your heart forever. May God bless you in your time of sorrow.

  22. Janet (Brown) Wright says:

    Sorry for loss.

  23. George Herbert says:

    Jim was a dear friend. I was proud to serve with him at the Legion Post 3030. He was a always someone you could count on to show respect and love for our veterans. He will be dearly missed. My prayers and deepest sympathy to you and your family.

  24. Crag, Patricia and Craig J. Suhusky says:

    Jim was a wonderful friend to all of us. A colleague to my husband, and friend/band director to myself and our son. He brought the gift of music to the whole community. He touched a great many lives and made a difference to all he met through his teaching and friendship. Our prayers go to Patti and his family. Jim will be greatly missed by all who loved him.

  25. Tobi (provost) Moriarty says:

    As a non-athlete, I was blessed to be part of a great band tradition at Otsego High. We were proud to be so good, and Mr Hewitt drove us to that excellence. Thank you for important and special memories.

  26. Russ and Becky Deaton says:

    Dear Patti,
    We’re very sorry to hear of your husbands passing. Hopefully, you have lots of wonderful memories of your lives together. God Bless you always.

  27. Craig and Lorna Sisson says:

    Dear Patti

    We are holding you in our hearts, thoughts and prayers as you take one day at a time dealing with your great loss. Jim was such a wonderful and talented person. He created so many wonderful memories for so many, including his students, audiences at all of his concerts, and family and friends. What a great loss, but a blessing to have known him.
    In Christ’s Love,
    Craig and Lorna

  28. Wally and Patti Shattuck says:

    Mr Hewitt , was an awesome and amazing man and teacher and mentor to both of us. Mr. Hewitt was a great friend of Wallys and I when we were going together , Wally was in the Navy and he would always as me about how he was doing and care about him ,He even came to our wedding . We were very blessed to have him in our lives. We will always remember him, and will never forget the friendship and leadership and fun we had with him as a teacher and friend ,may God help all that knew him threw their sadness and heal their broken hearts. Till this day Wally still plays brass instruments and we will never forget our Captain Kangaroo as we called him at school Otsego High school . God Bless you and your Family

  29. Martha Bauer says:

    My memory of Uncle Jim will always be of such a loving, warm person. I loved that he was a band director, because I was very involved in my high school band and would bring my trumpet with me whenever we visited so that he could give me pointers! We shared the love of music, and I know he was loving husband to my Aunt Mimi until she passed. He was a wonderful person who is clearly missed by many. My love and prayers go out to Patti and my cousins.

  30. Karen Panse McNees says:

    So sorry to hear of Mr. Hewitt’s passing, what a great man and passionate, patient leader! His drive and commitment translated into a legacy of excellence for Otsego Bands, school district, and community! What a privilege to grow in music appreciation, and to participate under his direction in marching band, concerts, and competitions. I smile thinking of how low my skills were in this area, and yet he worked tirelessly with everyone in his band Family! So many great stories, thankful for them all! Blessings for comfort and peace!

  31. Ken and Dianne Burkhart says:

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you, during this very difficult time.
    Jim was a model and inspiration to so many, and that may help you find some peace in your loss. His legacy in this community will live on and will be treasured by many. The Burkhart’s

  32. Tim Marsh says:

    These thoughts are all about Jim and what he did for me. To show what kind of a man he truly was.
    I was the Drum Major for Otsego High School when Jim first came to town. Some of us from band helped Jim and his wife move into a little house not far from the school. On the first day of band with Mr. Hewitt, (Captain Kangaroo) he raised his hands to start us playing some song he had laid out for us. Many of us couldn’t read the music. Jim stopped the band, walked over to the board and drew a circle. “This is a whole note” he stated. That was the beginning of the Otsego High School band program in their learning how to read music. The previous director would sing the music to us then we would copy (play) what he had sung. It worked great for getting division one ratings at festivals but not a lot for our music theory abilities. Jim’s teaching style was captivating to me. I listened intently as he in his commanding way, would help each section, memorizing many details that I would, not knowing then, would use in my own band directing career.
    Personally, Jim was always a Father figure to me. I was having some problems at home and he was always there with an encouraging word and a trust in me to do a task that wasn’t in my home life. I was the first person to receive the “Band Directors Service Award”. He told me later, he started it for me. In my senor year I chose a very difficult Solo for the up coming solo and ensemble competition. He helped me with the tough rhythms and encourager me to learn my scales. He arranged for me, drove me to, and payed for a private lesson with Trent Kenyston at Western Michigan University just to work on and finalize Hyden’s Sonata in Eflat. I got a first division ratting at regional and at state, he actually came into the room to here my performance. It went very well, until the scales. I hadn’t memorized them. None! Well I knew the bflat concert scale but the judge didn’t ask for that one. Jim got up and walked out! My heart was broken. Later that spring, I missed the bus to Cedar Point. I over slept. He didn’t call me and wake me up nor wait for me. He left his Drum Major behind! Later in life, I can now look back and see that those were the most important lessons I had learned to be used the rest of my life.
    So, professionally, Jim was my education for a successful career as a band director. His knowledge, my style.
    Personally, I learned many skills of a man. Unconditional love, patience, forgiveness, being on time and my favorite, how to be able to pick someone out of a crowd and chose to help and mentor that one, many, along in their troubled life. He did that for me. Unconditionally!
    Over the past ten years or more Jim has always remembered my name, asked questions of how my life was going and was truly interested and gave me good words along the way. One of my favorite men in this world. Jim Hewitt!
    It’s not what you do in life, It’s who you are. Then, who you are always shows up in what you do. My dad never said to me, I love you. Jim did in so many ways! May we all learn to love like that!

  33. Kathryn Utter says:

    Mr.Hewitt, I know you and I had talked about catching up again and playing trumpet. I am so sad now that I will never get that opportunity. You made me into the person and trumpet player that I am today. You got me into the music program because you conditioned me and believed in me. You were, and always be, a perfect teacher and friend. I will ALWAYS remember the Sousa and King marches.

  34. Randy & Cindy Khodl says:

    I really couldnt believe what I heard when I heard this. I am so sorry . I am so glad you and jim got to share a part of your lives together. I wish I lived closer. I want you to know that you are in our prayers, and in my thoughts . I sure hope your at peace with this. and the memories will live on.

  35. monte dunnum says:

    sympathy to all family and friends on the passing of our great friend. As a fellow ASBDA past president, I know well Jims contributions to our profession. He will be greatly missed.

  36. Jean Schleicher Shugert says:

    Mike and Mary Beth,
    Your dad was such a good band director while I was a student at Marine City High School 1956-60. He never complained about having band in the old gym and his office off the stage there. I feel he brought out the best in us, as I’m sure he did during his teaching years in other places. Both he and your mom were such fine musicians and great people. (I forgave him long ago for being a Buckeye fan, since I root for Michigan, despite my living in Ohio now.)
    Our paths haven’t crossed, but I’m happy to know you and Jim Hewitt found each other. Prayers here are for you and the family.

  37. Rich Patterson says:

    Jim was always a strong leader for band education and as the Office Manager for the American School Band Directors Association (ASBDA) he made a long and solid contribution to our association. His care and deep understanding of what was right and needed to be done was always foremost in his words and work. I will miss him and I know that he will be with all of us in times to come. Rest now my friend and enjoy a new level of understanding of life.

  38. Ed Cannava says:

    Jim was such a great leader of ASBDA! I have such fond memories of he, Denny and I standing at the Midwest ASBDA booth, where Jim warmly greeted countless directors that he knew over his wonderful career. He shared with me the hope that marching bands would be televised once again during college football games. Jim always thought of everyone else first – he was truly a person of service, always willing to give back what he possibly could. We will all miss you Jim, but until we meet again…thanks for your incredible positive influence on all of us!

  39. Beth Beam says:

    Dear Patti,

    A beautiful tribute and history to your Husband, Jim.
    I did look for you at the Planinwell Band Shell and now I understand why you weren’t there.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.


    Beth Beam

  40. Amy Teare says:

    Patti, Mary Beth and Mike,

    I am so sorry to hear about Jim. We had so many great times – our families camped together, built houses, had parties, and created endless good memories in Flint. Jim was a dear person, and I wish I could be at the Celebration of Life – know that my thoughts are with you even though I cannot make it.

  41. Nate Judson says:

    I feel so blessed that I could count Jim as one of my colleagues and friends in so many ways. He was a valued member of ASBDA and MSBOA. My wife, Chris, and I send our deepest sympathy to his family and associates.


  42. Lee Burns Kaufman says:

    Mary and Mike:
    I know it has been years since we have seen each other, but I wanted to express how much your dad meant to me growing up in Flint. He was my private lesson teacher, and in fact was the guy who told me at Brownell that the trumpet was for me!
    I will always remember his laugh and support he gave us at Northwestern when times were tough.
    Mary–you were my true friend in junior high, senior high and at MSU. I will always treasure our friendship.

  43. julie (Newton) Bentley says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about Jim. I had him as a band director in Otsego starting in 1973 and also in the Otsego-Plainwell Community Band but his influence didn’t stop there. He taught me the love of music and I thank him overtime I pick up my clarinet and play in my local town band. He was amazing as I would visit my family in Otsego and he always remembered me and extended the invitation to sit in with the Otsego-Plainwell Band when I was in town. Very good memories. Once when I sent a christmas card to him he responded back about how I remember “my old music teacher”. How could I not remember him! His musical legacy will live on in all the people he taught music to and will continue on through them. What a gift he gave this world. Thank you Jim. May you rest in peace.

  44. Charlie and Marilyn Fugate says:

    We were so sad when we received your e-mail on Jim’s passing. We both knew how in-love you were with each other. You are in our family prayers. Our love to you, Charlie and Marilyn

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