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Jddewitt81
12-02-2017, 04:25 AM
It is with my deepest sympathy to report the passing of ukulele builder Steve Vanpelt.

Admittedly I hadn’t heard much about Steve as I wasn’t playing the ukulele when he was building. That all changed a few days ago when Ginny posted her soprano Vanpelt ukulele for sale on Ukulele Underground. Being a soprano player I just knew I had to have it. I fell in love with the wood combination and the attention to to detail Steve used from the pictures alone. Not knowing anything about him as a builder I thought I would take a chance on it. I contacted her immediately and told her I would take it!

Like many people I wanted to find out more about who made my lovey new instrument so I decided to search for him. Surprisingly I found very little. I did find a few old posts he made and an old video of him at the Reno uke convention. Through my searches I could see that many people loved the work he did and many people had also wondered where he went so suddenly.

I just happened to search Facebook and found a post by a lovely woman named Terry Ross Vanpelt. She had stated that her husband had passed. She made this post just days AFTER I had already purchased the Vanpelt ukulele.

I contacted her immediately with my deepest sympathy but I had to make sure that this was him. Sadly it indeed was him and she reported that he had actually passed away October 8, 2017. She gave me her number and I called her immediately.

Terry was very friendly and so delighted to hear my story and how I just so happened to come across this ukulele. I could tell that it really put a smile on her heart. She spoke of her husband building this ukulele and remembered who Ginny was. She told me that her husband really put a lot of love into this one!! Naturally you can tell that she misses and loves her husband dearly. We talked for a long while as she told me stories about Steve as a man, as a builder and of his passing. I found our conversation felt as if we had known each other forever.

During our conversation she spoke of Chuck Moore and a brief interaction they had discussing ukuleles. She spoke about how excited Steve was about this. She also spoke of another man whom had purchased a tenor ukulele. She couldn’t remember his name but she did say that he had a “Hawaiian name”. I could feel the trip down memory lane as we spoke and I think that she could tell that my heart was equally as touched as hers.

I wanted to make sure that she was ok with me relaying the message to you all and she was indeed very much ok with it. In fact she told me to let all of you know and for me to leave her contact information. She is not very computer savvy and is having a hard time accessing all of Steve’s contacts on his phone. She would love to hear from any of you that knew him in any way or anyone who ever purchased or played one of his ukuleles either new or secondhand.

I believe that her hearing from all that knew him would mean a great deal to her. What I never expected was just how much this would impact me. I am honored to have had a chance to speak with her and equally as honored to have a part of Steve’s legacy.

For those that wish to get in touch with Terry and give your respects please contact me and I will give you her phone number. She said it was ok to post it here but I would rather not as this is a public forum.

- Jon

Jddewitt81
12-02-2017, 04:55 AM
If any of you knew him or knew anyone who did; please have them contact me for contact information.

hawaii 50
12-02-2017, 07:25 AM
here is a video from my friend Mike Aratani(aka MGM-Music Guy Mike) who passed away a few years ago...he tried to get Steve Van Pelt's name out as he believed Steve would become a great builder....sadly it never worked out....RIP

if you knew Mike he is playing his famous sample chords on the uke....:)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAswwvy5p9w

Jddewitt81
12-02-2017, 07:30 AM
Yes that is one of the videos I had seen. I do believe if he had kept building he would have been very well known. The ukulele I just bought is absolutely wonderful and one of his earlier ones according to Terry.

EDW
12-02-2017, 09:02 AM
Sad to hear. I saw this instrument the other day and thought it was drop dead beautiful and the sound clip was great. I contacted Ginny to find out more, but you had already bought it. I also did a search for Steve. I was curious what other instruments he had out there and wanted to learn more about his background, but there was not much. He did have some postings on this forum years back and the few things you mentioned.

Jddewitt81
12-02-2017, 09:36 AM
I’m not sure how I feel about things happening for a reason but I feel in some way his wife really enjoyed our conversation. I know for me personally it was very touching. I have never even seen another Vanpelt ukulele for sale and Ginny had no idea. It was only through my Facebook search after I bought it that I found this out. So weird that she chose to part with this so close to his passing.

When I saw Ginny post it for sale I just thought it was a beautiful instrument. I didn’t even think twice before I said “I’ll take it”. It does have a few of the finish flaws she mentioned in the listing but that’s fine by me.

If you ever get a chance to pick one up I highly recommend it; if he had been able to keep building I truly believe he would be among the best!

GinnyT11
12-02-2017, 09:47 AM
I'm sorry to hear about Steve's passing. I'm glad you talked with his wife.

When he was working on my uke, we wrote and talked regularly, but we fell out of touch. I had no idea it was due to a health situation. I loved the uke because it was so special to me, but my family has had some big issues and my connection to the uke dwindled. I'm delighted that it has gone to Jon, who already cares a lot about it.

Send a salute to Steve and Terry and play the uke with joy!

Doc_J
12-02-2017, 11:14 AM
It is with my deepest sympathy to report the passing of ukulele builder Steve Vanpelt.

Admittedly I hadn’t heard much about Steve as I wasn’t playing the ukulele when he was building. That all changed a few days ago when Ginny posted her soprano Vanpelt ukulele for sale on Ukulele Underground. Being a soprano player I just knew I had to have it. I fell in love with the wood combination and the attention to to detail Steve used from the pictures alone. Not knowing anything about him as a builder I thought I would take a chance on it. I contacted her immediately and told her I would take it!

Like many people I wanted to find out more about who made my lovey new instrument so I decided to search for him. Surprisingly I found very little. I did find a few old posts he made and an old video of him at the Reno uke convention. Through my searches I could see that many people loved the work he did and many people had also wondered where he went so suddenly.

I just happened to search Facebook and found a post by a lovely woman named Terry Ross Vanpelt. She had stated that her husband had passed. She made this post just days AFTER I had already purchased the Vanpelt ukulele.

I contacted her immediately with my deepest sympathy but I had to make sure that this was him. Sadly it indeed was him and she reported that he had actually passed away October 8, 2017. She gave me her number and I called her immediately.

Terry was very friendly and so delighted to hear my story and how I just so happened to come across this ukulele. I could tell that it really put a smile on her heart. She spoke of her husband building this ukulele and remembered who Ginny was. She told me that her husband really put a lot of love into this one!! Naturally you can tell that she misses and loves her husband dearly. We talked for a long while as she told me stories about Steve as a man, as a builder and of his passing. I found our conversation felt as if we had known each other forever.

During our conversation she spoke of Chuck Moore and a brief interaction they had discussing ukuleles. She spoke about how excited Steve was about this. She also spoke of another man whom had purchased a tenor ukulele. She couldn’t remember his name but she did say that he had a “Hawaiian name”. I could feel the trip down memory lane as we spoke and I think that she could tell that my heart was equally as touched as hers.

I wanted to make sure that she was ok with me relaying the message to you all and she was indeed very much ok with it. In fact she told me to let all of you know and for me to leave her contact information. She is not very computer savvy and is having a hard time accessing all of Steve’s contacts on his phone. She would love to hear from any of you that knew him in any way or anyone who ever purchased or played one of his ukuleles either new or secondhand.

I believe that her hearing from all that knew him would mean a great deal to her. What I never expected was just how much this would impact me. I am honored to have had a chance to speak with her and equally as honored to have a part of Steve’s legacy.

For those that wish to get in touch with Terry and give your respects please contact me and I will give you her phone number. She said it was ok to post it here but I would rather not as this is a public forum.

- Jon


here is a video from my friend Mike Aratani(aka MGM-Music Guy Mike) who passed away a few years ago...he tried to get Steve Van Pelt's name out as he believed Steve would become a great builder....sadly it never worked out....RIP

if you knew Mike he is playing his famous sample chords on the uke....:)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAswwvy5p9w

It saddens me to hear of Steve’s passing. He made outstanding ukes. While I never met Steve, I do have the koa/sinker redwood tenor featured in that video with MGM. It’s an outstanding player and looker. Bought it from the original owner, a friend here on UU.


https://youtu.be/xAswwvy5p9w

Here's some pictures of one of Steve's amazing ukes. His loss to the ukulele community is large.

Flickr album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsma3Kwmq

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4570/38805972071_c6ec626b75_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/2289KvZ)P1070016 (https://flic.kr/p/2289KvZ) by [/url], on Flickr
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4575/37919651945_2d8ab1eb17_z.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/150516092@N02/)P1070014 (https://flic.kr/p/ZLQ8qv) by , on Flickr
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4565/38775947142_eb0b3976d1_z.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/150516092@N02/)P1070022 (https://flic.kr/p/225uS9N) by [url=https://www.flickr.com/photos/150516092@N02/], on Flickr

DownUpDave
12-02-2017, 11:31 AM
So sad to hear of his passing but what a wonderful post and a wonderful legacy he leaves behind.

Jddewitt81
12-02-2017, 05:45 PM
That tenor looks great!!

mm stan
12-02-2017, 05:54 PM
Aloha Jon, in was a friend of Steve's too, thank you. Last l heard he was taking care of his wife who had health issues
He was a beautiful man and we had nice talks, now I really want to find one of his ukes.

dkcrown
12-03-2017, 01:31 AM
here is a video from my friend Mike Aratani(aka MGM-Music Guy Mike) who passed away a few years ago...he tried to get Steve Van Pelt's name out as he believed Steve would become a great builder....sadly it never worked out....RIP

if you knew Mike he is playing his famous sample chords on the uke....:)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAswwvy5p9w

Thanks for re-posting that video Len. I remember watching it after MGM posted it.

It is sad to see the two relatively young men taken from us way too soon. Mike looked great in the video, very svelte. I still think of him often, he was so kind and knowledgeable. The ukulele world misses him greatly. And wishing Steve's wife the best moving forward after the loss of her husband.

Jddewitt81
12-03-2017, 07:26 AM
Stan;

I tried to message you direct as during my searches I seen you two had communicated quite a bit. Your mailbox was full though.

Booli
12-03-2017, 10:01 AM
I am very deeply moved by this touching story. These instruments have a unique and special provenance and I am glad that the owners appreciate it.

The era of MGM Mike Aratani was happening pretty much before I discovered ukulele, and only saw a few of his threads here on UU but watched MANY of his videos when I started, so I can begin to understand why he was so loved.

I am saddened by the loss of these two wonderful humans, but glad that their legacy will live on.

Remember, they are not totally gone, as long as we remember them and share these memories with others.

This is how legends are created. :)

Thanks everyone here for sharing this experience.

Nickie
12-06-2017, 06:39 AM
I am very deeply moved by this touching story. These instruments have a unique and special provenance and I am glad that the owners appreciate it.

The era of MGM Mike Aratani was happening pretty much before I discovered ukulele, and only saw a few of his threads here on UU but watched MANY of his videos when I started, so I can begin to understand why he was so loved.

I am saddened by the loss of these two wonderful humans, but glad that their legacy will live on.

Remember, they are not totally gone, as long as we remember them and share these memories with others.

This is how legends are created. :)

Thanks everyone here for sharing this experience.

I couldn't have stated this any better. What a touching story of two wonderful people who have left us. They won't soon be forgotten.

mm stan
12-08-2017, 04:45 AM
I talked with his wife, she remembers me. She nice and she is in remission now.. I know Steve helped her through it too.
I'll clean my box

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
12-08-2017, 06:03 AM
I remember the conversations I had had with Steve and was impressed with his enthusiasm as a new builder. he was voracious in his quest to learn everything he could and he was taking off like a rocket. Then one day, poof, he just quit. I didn't know him well enough to ask questions why. It's sad to see a gifted man pass so early. My condolences to his wife and those who knew and loved him.

mm stan
12-08-2017, 02:07 PM
I remember the conversations I had had with Steve and was impressed with his enthusiasm as a new builder. he was voracious in his quest to learn everything he could and he was taking off like a rocket. Then one day, poof, he just quit. I didn't know him well enough to ask questions why. It's sad to see a gifted man pass so early. My condolences to his wife and those who knew and loved him.

Wasn't he so enthusiastic when he and his wife went to visit you, yes chuckie, he had to take care of his wife who had cancer in 2009, then moved to Texas. .. I don't even think his wife knew he had cancer till the later stages ..such a gifted and giving man

Jddewitt81
12-09-2017, 07:56 AM
Yes it sounded as if he didn’t want to worry her with his problems. Sad that he disappeared so suddenly without a word but I suppose he had his reasons. So glad she is doing better!! Glad you got to speak with her Stan!

CaliTexan
09-06-2018, 01:51 PM
I am speechless. I met Steve while working at his parent’s retirement community in Santa Rosa, Ca. Steve and his whole family were so nice! Steve was just about to start selling his ukes and gifted me with a custom made Tenor Uke. He documented the entire process on this website. I fell out of touch with the family after having our second child, and eventually moving to Austin, Tx. I just decided to look him up today to let him know that the Uke still sounds and looks great! I am so honored to have a piece of art from this wonderful person. It will forever be cherished! I will play one for you tonight Steve!