We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Sanders Funeral Home
"I enjoy seeing former students everywhere I go. I remember many of them. I am truly blessed to have had a career that has given me so much pleasure and pride."
- Charles Hytken.
Charles Hytken, age 85, joined his musical friends in heaven on August 3, 2022. He is survived by two daughters, Mary Ann Hytken and Susan Metcalf (Phil Metcalf), three grandchildren, Miranda and Theo Thiesen and Alfred Metcalf, and niece Becky Grimm and nephew Greg Plympton.
Growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, where Charles watched concerts and marching bands and listened to swing bands on the radio, he fell in love with the look
and sound of the tenor saxophone. It was at Bellevue Junior High where he received his first saxophone. With encouragement from his school and a private music
teacher, he decided to be a career sax player and band director.
At Central High School his school band performed at school dances throughout Memphis, festivals, competitions, half-time shows, marched in parades, and appeared on television. In his senior year, he was voted “Most Tal- ented Senior.”
At Northeast Louisiana State College, Charles received a BA in Music Education. In addition to performing in the band, orchestra, and choir, he joined his first dance band, earning money for the first time through his music. He recollected, "This was an exciting time musically. Rock ‘N Roll was starting and Elvis was in Memphis!"
It was at Northeast where Charles met his life-long friend, another tenor sax musician and singer, Dean Boyd. In 1960, a year after graduation, he would follow
Dean to a place called, Eureka, California.
Charles’ first teaching job was at his old junior high, Bellevue. He graduated from this school at age 15 and remained there until turned at age 22 as their music teacher! For one year he taught band and orchestra. "I learned many do’s and don’ts using a little foresight and much, much hindsight."
Upon arriving in Eureka, Charles enrolled at Humboldt State College and completed his Master of Arts degree in Music. Initially, employment was not found in teaching music. His first Humboldt jobs were at Georgia Pacific Plywood and Pinkerton Security. A teaching position soon opened with the Klamath Trinity Unified School District in Hoopa. For three years, Charles taught band, jazz band, and choir at Hoopa High School and band at Hoopa Elementary School and Trinity
Valley Elementary School. "The schools had excellent support from administration, teachers, and parents. The high school had a new music building, new uniforms and choir robes, and many new instruments. I have many fond memories of the beautiful Hoopa Valley and the people." Teaching in Hoopa required commuting twice a week, driving to Hoopa Monday mornings and returning to Eureka Friday evenings.
During the 1964 flood, transport by helicopter was the only way in and out of Hoopa. "One time the pilot accidentally dropped me off on the wrong side of the river. When I didn’t show up to teach, someone finally figured out what had happened!"
Charles’ next and final teaching position covered thirty three years with Eureka City Schools. The music program included song flutes (3rd grade), and Honor Band and Honor Orchestra (4th-6th grade). The band and orchestra performed for the community every winter and spring at the Eureka High Auditorium and at the annual All-County Music Festival. "I had opportunities to apply for other music positions in the district but never did. I really enjoyed working with the elementary students."
Charles and his teaching partner of 27 years, Gerry Davies, team-taught all of the Eureka elementary schools, splitting the schools between them and rotating schools every year. After Gerry retired, David Demant joined the music department becoming Charles’ teaching partner for his final six years. Charles’ list of qualities that make for a good teacher were: positive attitude, approachable, patient, available, a sense of humor, and informed.
Charles instructed over 10,000 students throughout his career. After teaching in the schools during the day, he offered private music lessons at both Nygard & Green and Maxon’s Music stores.
Then, there were the dance bands on Saturday nights . . .For over 40 years, Charles performed in dance bands at various locations throughout Humboldt County including the Moose Lodge, Elks Lodge, VFW halls, Baywood Club, Ingomar Club, Eureka Inn and numerous lodges, granges, and dance clubs. Throughout these years, his music circle included Dean Boyd, Evelyn Johnson, Lee Simmons, Jack Johnson, Gerry Davies, Bill Moehnke, Bob Johnson, and Betty Stempka-Hytken, whom he married in 1964. They later divorced in 1986, but they continued to perform together until her death in 2016, bringing much joy with their music to the community.
Charles had the gift of humor when retelling his many adventures in teaching and performing. A favorite dance band memory: "There was a special dance where the ladies took off one shoe and placed it in a pile of shoes in the middle of the dance floor. Each man would select one shoe from the pile and find the woman with its matching partner. The funny thing was, at the end of the night after everyone had left, there would always be a shoe or two left on the dance floor!"
In his retirement, Charles devoted a decade of volunteerism to Granada Rehabilitation and Wellness Center. He enjoyed performing “oldies” for the residents on the
facility piano. For those who could not leave their rooms, he brought his portable keyboard and carried it from room to room allowing them to enjoy their favorite tunes.
Charles’ final reflections on life: "Try to have a good day, every day. Smile. Compliment people. Have kind words to say to your fellow persons. These are the things
that are important."
A special Thank You to the Sequoia Springs administration and memory unit staff for Dad’s excellent care.
Per Charles’ wishes, a private service was held at St. Bernard’s Cemetery.
"Goodnight, goodnight, until we meet again Adios, Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehn ‘til then And though it’s always
sweet sorrow to part, You know you’ll always remain in my heart Goodnight, sleep tight, and pleasant dreams to
you Here’s a wish and a prayer that every dream comes true And now ‘til we meet again Adios, Au Revoir, Auf
Wiedersehn Good night! -Lawrence Welk Show"
(A weekly favorite on the Hytken television).