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Wednesday January 30, 2013

Hugh Langin

Brother, volunteer, reader, singer, lover of jazz. Born Aug. 21, 1932, in Halifax, died June 28, 2012, in Halifax after being hit by a vehicle on a crosswalk, aged 79

Injured at birth, Hughie had challenges throughout his life. Learning and detail memory were never his strong suits. It is a testament to his mother's patience that Hugh learned to read, a pleasure he exercised every day through newspapers, magazines and books. His thirst for knowledge and understanding was lifelong.

As a challenged young adult he was institutionalized, a custom of earlier times.

His life changed at age 48 when the opportunity arose to become a member of the wider community by moving to a group home.

Hughie loved his freedom and was an exemplary transit user and pedestrian, usually walking in excess of five kilometres a day. He was a familiar face throughout Halifax, always with a smile.

He volunteered at the YMCA every week for more than 20 years.

Having a mental disability did not mean Hughie lacked wit or wisdom. He had a wickedly dry sense of humour with a drop-dead sense of timing. He could see any situation clearly and sum it up succinctly.

His greatest passion was music. He loved the musicians throughout Halifax and they loved him.

He was happiest when circulating among musicians, especially at Stayner's Wharf Pub and Grill, a waterfront restaurant and bar owned by his good friend Todd Abbass.

Hughie enjoyed playing the piano and singing to the crowd while the other musicians joined in, blending their music with his, which came from his soul.

His great friend and musical collaborator, Jamie Alcorn, produced videos and recordings that are a keepsake to ensure Hughie will never be forgotten.

At a celebration of Hughie's life last Aug. 21, which would have been his 80th birthday, Stayner's Wharf was crammed with family, friends and members of the local musical community.

Videos of Hughie singing and playing piano were shown, and attendees talked about how much they admired his unique personality and love for people and life in general.

A highlight of the evening was a caricature of Hugh at the piano, with his great smile, presented by Bruce MacKinnon, editorial cartoonist at The Chronicle Herald in Halifax.

A musical foundation is being established, The Hugh Langin Jazz Foundation, to assure his legacy is kept alive, and an annual celebration of his birthday is planned.

Cliff Langin and Marjorie Lindsay are Hughie's brother and sister.

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