Beloved Music Teacher and WWII Veteran Dies After Contracting COVID-19

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A WWII veteran and beloved music teacher in Los Angeles has died at the age of 96 after contracting COVID-19.  

Even at age 96 Wallace Umber was still playing his trumpet, serenading residents isolated during the pandemic at his retirement home in Santa Barbara.

Umber died last month after contracting coronavirus.

But his legacy lives on through his family and hundreds of students from his 36 years as a music teacher.

"He just inspired so many people and that’s what we want to remember," his daughter Heidi Umber said.

Umber’s daughter said she’s heard from dozens of his former students.

He founded Santa Monica College’s emeritus concert band, taught music at Venice High School, and Emerson Middle School in Westwood.

 His band briefly included a young Michael Jackson, and Darnella Davidson who is now the band director at San Pedro High School.

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"It’s just so sad when I heard about his passing. I got choked up because he was such a sweet man," Davidson said.

Umber was also a war hero. At age 19, he was among the U.S. soldiers who stormed the beaches of Normandy.

But it was spending time with his beloved wife Carol, his six children and many grandchildren that brought him the most joy. He taught them all to play instruments.

Severe winter weather is delaying delivery of COVID-19 vaccine across the country. The U.S. is now vaccinating 1.7 million people every day, but the Centers for Disease Control warns cases are dropping because we're coming off the holiday surge, not because more people are getting shots. They're also concerned that new strains of coronavirus could push those numbers back up.

"We had so many good times together hiking and giggling and playing our instruments," his granddaughter Sara said.

Sara says she cherishes the lessons her granddad taught her.

Anyone wishing to donate in his honor to his favorite charity, Arrowbear Music Camp, can do so here.

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