By Eric Ashby

A person who has inspired me is a man named Stanley Kaye. He is now deceased but he had a big influence on me when he was alive. I wasn’t the only one he influenced. Stanley inspired my entire family. The way he lived his life was the way all people should live. The morals he taught me have changed my life forever.

The first time I met Mr. Kaye was when he came to Pittsburgh with the band he managed called Diva. My Dad runs a music program on the North Side that has a concert hall. Diva came to the concert hall so I got to meet Stanley. Diva is not any old band. It is an all girls big band. This was the only all girls big band in the world at the time. Stanley could do anything he put his mind to and that had a big effect on me. He walked in the door and I knew this day would change my life forever. Mr. Kaye came up to me and asked me my name and so on. Then he asked me if I played an instrument and I said the drums. After that he came over with a pair of drumsticks that were the perfect size for me. These were the first pair of drumsticks I owned and I still have them today. After that he kept saying how good I was going to be at drums. He kept telling me if I practiced hard everyday I would be great. He was so excited about me playing drums that I felt really good inside. Mr. Kaye was a drummer too which made it even better.

One day Mr. Kaye called us up on the telephone and asked if we wanted to go to New York. We said yes and later that summer went to New York for the weekend. The day after we arrived Stanley came by and picked us up to go to the old Yankee Stadium. This was a dream come true for me. We walked straight through the player entrance and down below the stadium. The thing that amazed me the most though was everyone knew him and asked how he was doing. Stanley knew every single person by name and he was in his late 70s. He later told stories about the good times he had with all those people. It just showed that when you’re friendly to everybody, the same treatment comes back to you. That day taught me to just be kind to everyone. We watched the game and the Yankees won, which wasn’t a surprise. The morals that you learned on a daily basis from Stanley were endless.

Stanley was very good at following the golden rule. The people who were around him always enjoyed his company. It was amazing how many people had a close connection with Mr. Kaye. He would tell stories about all the people he had met and the list just went on and on. Stanley Kaye always wanted to think of something new and cutting edge. He would rethink things in a way nobody else could. The things that he came up with like an all girls big band were just spectacular. The way Mr. Kaye thought really had an impact on me and It taught me to solve problems by thinking outside of the box. Innovator was a word often used to describe him and that inspired me to really want to make a difference in the world. One time we went to a restaurant with him that he went to a lot. Stanley was always very kind to the staff and the owners. He would always tip them very generously and became good friends with all the people there. He had such a big impact that they named a salad on their menu after him.

Stanley is now deceased and so my Dad did a show to honor him. He pulled out all the stops to make this show really special. On the side of the theater he had pictures of Stanley throughout his life plus his band Diva played a marvelous concert. There were also two guest singers one of which was George Steinbrenner’s granddaughter and a major league umpire, Joe West. The show was extremely emotional and I learned a lot that I didn’t know about Mr. Kaye. The show inspired me to want to carry out what he had not finished yet. That day I vowed to work extra hard at the drums.

It is truly amazing how much someone can affect your life. Mr. Kaye made me a better person and inspired me greatly. Stanley Kaye was one of a kind.

Eric is the son of Marty Ashby, the Executive Producer of MCG Jazz, a program of the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild.