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For the week of Jan. 12 through Jan. 18, 2000

End of an era

Musical legend and Sun Valley friend, Jimmie Limes, dies


By TRAVIS PURSER
Express Staff Writer

j12jim.jpg (14576 bytes)Musical legend, longtime ski instructor and icon for a Sun Valley era, Jimmie Limes died at Sun Valley’s Wood River Medical Center of an aneurysm Monday. He was 72.

It’s hard to live in the Wood River Valley and not have heard Limes play his joyous big-band jazz, patriotic marches and, for Ketchum’s American Legion post, heartfelt taps.

Most recently, he played his clear, bright, crisp notes with the Jimmie Limes Quartet, which was always a highlight of the Sun Valley Jazz Festival and of the Wagon Days celebration.

His down to earth, The Cities Band, an ever-expanding throng of local musicians with a come-one-come-all philosophy was famous for its afternoon jam sessions at local parks.

And in the 1960s, Limes and The Holiday Four carried the Ketchum night life high at Slavey’s, blasting Tijuana Brass until the sun came up and the gig was over.

There’s little doubt that everybody loved him.

Lloyd Ulyate, trombonist and well-known Los Angeles studio musician, traveled to Sun Valley this week to mourn the loss of Limes. Ulyate met Limes at the Ram Lounge in 1959 and they had been close friends ever since.

During a call from his Elkhorn home, Ulyate illustrated the fervent enthusiasm Limes brought to his music and to the lives of others. Ulyate recalled hiking up Dollar Mountain with Limes in a snowstorm to serenade Christmas revelers during the annual Sun Valley Torch-light Parade.

It was so cold Ulyate’s trombone slide froze. But when it came to music, Limes was not easily thwarted. They played "Jingle Bells" and other carols, Ulyate harmonizing in the key of B-flat, where his slide was frozen.

"It was not a musical triumph, but it was marvelous," Ulyate said.

"It’s kind of the end of an era," Ulyate said of Limes’ death. "Sun Valley is just different."

Limes, born in Los Angeles in 1927, began his lifelong love of music at the age of 10 when he acquired his first trumpet. As a teenager, he formed a Dixieland band that entertained World War II servicemen at the famous Hollywood Canteen, which also featured movie stars Bette Davis, Edgar Bergen, Susan Hayward and Gary Cooper.

He joined the U.S. Navy in 1945 and served as a Navy musician and bugler in Guam. After his discharge and a year attending college, he began a short-lived career playing professional baseball for the Chicago Cubs "C" League farm team in Visalia, Calif., but was soon released.

Limes’ wife, Lee Limes, during a telephone conversation Tuesday from her Ketchum home, said her husband decided to come to Sun Valley in 1953 because he had no money and there was cheap room and board available here.

Limes worked as a bell hop and a bell captain before becoming a ski instructor in Sun Valley, which he continued to do for 43 years—until the week before his death.

Lee Limes, who came to Sun Valley in 1950 when she was 26, met her future husband while she was waiting tables at the Lodge. She fell in love with him for, among other things, his music.

"Once you get music in your blood, it’s there," she said.

After dating for three years, they were married in 1957 at the Trail Creek Cabin.

Through more than 42 years of marriage flavored always with the music of Doc Sevensen, Chet Baker, Harry James, Louie Armstrong and Maynard Ferguson, to name a few.

Lee Limes said her husband considered himself lucky to be a musician and considered it a gift to be able to play music.

Lee Limes, who is not herself a musician, said, "I listened, and that’s what I’m going to miss."

In addition to his wife, surviving family members include his daughter Lynn, son-in-law Hal, grandson Harrison Leadlay and mother Peggy Rose. He was preceded in death by a son, a sister and his father.

Memorial services are scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 16 at 1 p.m. at Warm Springs Ranch Inn.

Memorial contributions are suggested to the Blaine County Education Foundation, in care of Wood River Chapel, Box 639, Hailey, to aid students interested in a career in music.

Arrangements are under the care of Wood River Chapel in Hailey.

 

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