Alan C. Webber, editor, trombonist

April 22, 2011

Alan C. Webber, 85, a retired editor with a National Rifle Association publication who played trombone in area jazz bands and led his own music groups, died April 13 at Inova Fairfax Hospital of a ruptured aorta. He lived in Purcellville.

Mr. Webber worked for half a century in journalism, initially as a reporter on a small-town Connecticut newspaper. He later held editorial positions at publications including the trade magazine Jewelers Circular-Keystone in Philadelphia.

He settled in the Washington area in 1968 and retired in the late 1970s from the NRA journal American Rifleman as senior managing editor. At his death, he was senior copy editor for the Weider History Group of magazines in Leesburg.

Alan Crawford Webber was a native of Waterbury, Conn. He served in the Army in Europe during World War II and landed at Normandy days after the invasion in 1944. He was wounded by shrapnel from a German mortar shell on his 19th birthday.

“The Nazis gave me a rather unpleasant birthday gift,” he often quipped of the serious injuries that led to him being awarded the Purple Heart.

On the GI Bill, he graduated from Amherst College in Massachusetts. He then spent a year in England studying history, political science and philosophy at St. Peter’s College of the University of Oxford.

Mr. Webber was an aficionado of New Orleans-style jazz. He started and played in half a dozen ensembles over the years, including the D.C. area Federal Jazz Commission (where he proclaimed himself “Commissioner of Trombone”) and, for the past 15 years, the Leesburg-based Arcadians.

Mr. Webber was a co-founder of the Potomac River Jazz Club, a nonprofit group dedicated to the preservation of Dixieland jazz. His business card included the legend, “Old trombonists never die, they just slide away.” His family said his ashes will be interred in his trombone by sealing off the bell.

His marriage to the former Joyce Raines ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 31 years, Marianna Wilcox Webber of Purcellville; two children from his first marriage, Russell R. Webber of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Jennifer Webber of Berkeley, Calif.; three stepsons, Kenneth Taylor of Sykesville, Md., Bruce Taylor of Mount Airy and Kevin Taylor of Gaithersburg; a sister; seven grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

— Adam Bernstein

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