Wally Garner, 77, a British Aerospace administrative employee and longtime clarinetist in Washington jazz circles, died Aug. 24 at Inova Fairfax Hospital. He had lung cancer.
Mr. Garner, a Falls Church resident, spent most of his career at the British Aerospace office near Dulles International Airport. He helped find and deliver airplane parts, retiring in 1993.
Starting in the early 1950s, he played music at jazz clubs with such performers as cornetist "Wild Bill" Whelan, pianist Booker Coleman, pianist John Eaton and bassist Tommy Cecil.
Until 2002, he played with Cecil's trio -- which included pianist Larry Eanet -- for more than a decade at Sunday brunch at the Four Seasons Hotel in the District.
Over the years, he sat in with bands featuring such world-renowned horn players as Louis Armstrong, Jimmy McPartland and "Wild Bill" Davison.
In a 1992 Kennedy Center Terrace Theater tribute to big band clarinetist Benny Goodman, Mr. Garner played a series of songs Goodman helped popularize.
Jazz critic Mike Joyce, writing in The Washington Post, said Mr. Garner "wielded a marvelously elastic and round tone -- agile enough to gracefully adorn several up-tempo swing-era anthems, warm enough to cast unusually seductive spells with 'Blue Skies,' 'Body and Soul' and 'The Man I Love.' "
He was born David McKinstry Garner in Washington in 1928. A friend gave him the nickname "Wally" because of a perceived resemblance to film actor Wallace Beery.
At age 9, he heard Goodman on the radio and began intensive study of the clarinet. His teachers included veterans of leading jazz groups.
He was a 1946 graduate of Western High School and attended the University of Virginia. He served in the Army in Japan in the late 1940s.
His avocations included golf.
His wife of 29 years, Adelaide Enfield "Krissie" Garner, died in 1981.
Survivors include a brother, Alan Garner of Falls Church.