The Bay Area lost a legendary musician, Arthur Eugene Cummings on Dec. 28, 2019. His parents, who were from the Caribbean islands of Barbados and St. Thomas, wanted a better life for themselves and eventually relocated to San Francisco where Cummings was born on March 1, 1927.
Cummings attended elementary school there before his family moved them to Berkeley where he continued his education in the Berkeley public schools. After high school Cummings joined the Merchant Marines during WWII and traveled the world. He spoke often of how grateful he was to have served his country and to travel abroad where he developed a love for music, particularly the saxophone.
Cummings built quite an audience when he played in various hot spots around the Bay Area, including the Leamington Hotel in Oakland and the Jack Tar in San Francisco before he became part of the house band at the Lake Merritt Hotel in Oakland. One of the many highlights of his career was when he played along side T. Bone Walker and Brook Benton. After a 30-year career as a postal worker, Cummings decided that music was his life.
He continued to play at local jazz clubs and events until he was 90 and occasionally in his basement studio. His biggest fan was his wife off 56 years, Beryl Cynthia Rodriquez, whom he married in 1955. Cummings was preceded in death by his father, Arthur M Cummings, his mother Urania Cummings, his wife Beryl Cummings and his sister Cecilia Coaxum.
He is survived by his daughter Michelle Cummings and son Lawrence (Larry) Cummings; sister Rita F. Bobino; granddaughter Candra Cummings and great-grandchildren, numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins both here and in the U.S. Virgin Islands. His memorial services will be held on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, at Sunset View Mortuary, 101 Colusa Ave., El Cerrito, CA 94530 at 10:30 a.m.