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Judith Hendricks dies at 78

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Judith Hendricks

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Judith Hendricks, 78, wife of internationally renowned jazz legend and Toledo native Jon Hendricks, 94, died this morning in a New York City hospital where she had been treated since Friday for a brain aneurysm.

She passed away at 12:20 a.m., nearly two days after the family agreed to take her off life support on Monday, according to the couple’s daughter, Aria Hendricks.

Doctors found Ms. Hendricks had an undiagnosed brain tumor while investigating the aneurysm.

“I thought it was just stress,” her daughter said of her mother’s headaches.

Judith Hendricks, who earlier beat a 2006 melanoma diagnosis, was married 56 years to Toledo native Jon Hendricks, known to jazz aficionados worldwide as the “father of vocalese” for his impact on developing that style of jazz singing decades ago, especially with the groundbreaking ’50s group, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross.

Mr. Hendricks is Toledo’s most famous jazz musician outside of pianist Art Tatum.

He and Judith met in a New York jazz club where Ms. Hendricks was employed, Kay Elliott, Art Tatum Jazz Society spokesman, said.

“She was the reason he was able to be Jon Hendricks because she took care of him perfectly,” Ms. Elliott said. “She was his manager, his lover, his everything.”

Singer Ramona Collins agreed.

“It was clear Judith steered the boat, so to speak. People agreed they were quite the couple,” she said. “It’s just a shock. It came out of nowhere. Jon is an international figure. He really is. These people were serious soulmates.”

Efforts are being made to reach Mr. Hendricks, who spends most of his time in New York.

Contact Tom Henry at: thenry@theblade.com or 419-724-6079 or on Twitter @ecowriterohio.

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