August 4, 2012

Eddie Jenkins, a professional drummer for more than 75 years who also worked as an editor for the Navy Department, died June 22 at his son’s home in Maynard, Mass. He was 94.

He had dementia, said his son, William Jenkins.

Mr. Jenkins began performing professionally in the 1930s in New York. In 1939, he replaced drummer Buddy Rich in a band led by trumpeter and singer Bunny Berigan. He also was the drummer for the King Sisters singing group and the swing band led by Alvino Rey.

He worked for USO shows early in World War II before becoming drummer in an Army dance band, which was part of the renowned Army band known as “Pershing’s Own.” He performed before troops in Europe during World War II.

After the war, Mr. Jenkins was based in New York as a musician and often toured in groups with the USO, including tours of Korea and Japan in the 1950s.

Mr. Jenkins began his government career in 1956 as an editor for the Army Department. He joined the Navy Department in 1966 and retired in 1980 as a research editor for All Hands magazine.

He continued his musical career with several Washington-based dance bands and other ensembles. He performed at weddings, inaugural balls and embassy parties. He continued to work as a musician until a few months before his death.

Edward William Jenkins was born in White Plains, N.Y., and he spent much of his youth haunting the jazz clubs of Manhattan, occasionally sitting in with leading groups, including the Chick Webb band at the Savoy Ballroom.

He received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Columbia University in 1963.

His wife of 40 years, Taeko Kaneko Jenkins, died in 1995. A son, Carl Jenkins, died in 1996.

Survivors include a son, William Jenkins of Maynard; a brother; and three granddaughters.

— Matt Schudel

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