Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Roucher Doubled Size of Sarasota's Jazz Club

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Roucher Doubled Size of Sarasota's Jazz Club

Article excerpt

With a playful sense of humor and a quick wit, Jerry Roucher brought a sense of fun to whatever he was doing, particularly the 10 years that he led the Jazz Club of Sarasota through some of its most successful programs.

Though he was slowed by Parkinson's disease in the last few years, he never lost his eagerness to crack jokes, even in the days before he died Monday at the age of 76.

"One of the Hospice nurses asked him the other day if he was comfortable, and he looked at her and said, 'I make a living,'" his wife, Nancy, recalled. "That was so Jerry."

Roucher died at his Siesta Key home with his wife and daughters, Barbara and Roslyn, by his side.

Roucher, who proudly claimed Decatur, Ill., as his hometown, retired to Sarasota in 1986 after running his family's wholesale liquor and wine distributorship in Central Illinois.

Both he and Nancy quickly got involved in their new home town.

Nancy Roucher remains active in arts education in Sarasota and has been instrumental in efforts to maintain arts programs in Sarasota county schools. The Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota, which she briefly ran on an interim basis, named its annual arts education award in her honor.

Jerry Roucher followed his passion for jazz and got involved with the growing club that Hal Davis started in 1980 in his living room, where he invited friends to listen to favorite recordings.

Davis founded a more formal organization and began producing concerts and the annual Sarasota Jazz Festival, featuring legendary side men from the big band era.

"I always thought it was great that he had the opportunity to have a whole second career with something that he just loved, which was jazz," Nancy Roucher said. "He was really thrilled to do that, to meet all the musicians and get to know them."

Embracing change

Roucher took over as president in 1990. By the time he stepped down in 2000, membership had doubled to 2,600, making it one of the largest jazz clubs in the country. …

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