Bill Carlson

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CARLSON WILLARD POWELL CARLSON “BILL” Husband, father, grandfather, classical guitarist, and teacher entered into his next adventure on January 22, 2018, with his family by his side. He died peacefully, at home, surrounded with love, soon after being diagnosed with urothelial carcinoma. Rebellious and artistic son of A. Willard Carlson and Beverly Powell Carlson, he was born in Morristown, NJ on September 17, 1942. Bill never tired of telling stories of his many misadventures with his younger brother Jack as the family moved over a half dozen times across the United States before finally settling in Falls Church, VA when he was a teenager. In the Spring of “69, he met Doris Steinberg, a nurse at Children’s Hospital, and they instantly fell in love. They lived in Glover Park, DC, with a community of friends that enjoyed music, potlucks, being active in the civil rights movement and protesting the war. They eloped in 1971. In 1974, when their first daughter Risa was born, Bill and Doris committed their life to clean living, meditation, yoga and vegetarianism and Bill became the ultimate Stay-at-Home Dad. Their second daughter Rachel was born in 1978 soon after they moved to Alexandria, VA. They became active members of the community and Bill could always be found volunteering at the girls’ schools. Bill was devoted to his children and felt deeply that the meaning of life was love, fun and family. Bill initially taught himself to play guitar in high school by imitating Johnny Cash and Buddy Holly records. He started teaching at age 15 in order to buy himself more guitars. Over the years he mastered multiple genres of guitar music, including country, soul, jazz and of course, classical. For years he performed and toured with several locally based rockabilly and soul bands, but ultimately dedicated himself to the classical guitar. He taught hundreds of guitar students over his 60 years of teaching, first in Washington DC, then in Alexandria, VA as owner of the Alexandria Guitar Studio. He always felt his greatest teaching accomplishment was passing on his love of music to his two daughters who both became musicians. He had a kind heart, an offbeat sense of humor, was often right but never took himself too seriously. A lover of tasteless jokes, John Waters and bizarre kitsch, he usually found his own jokes the funniest and his infectious belly laugh often filled the room. He was fond of entertaining friends by reciting dirty limericks and singing off-color songs while accompanying himself on the guitar. He had an encyclopedic mind and memory with a special talent to whistle ditties, wiggle his ears, and draw silly comics. In more recent years, Bill became a health nut and enjoyed lifting weights, power walking with his dog Jethro, taking handfuls of herbal supplements, tending to and floating in the pool and making daily orders from Amazon Prime. Bill is survived by his wife, Doris; his daughters, Risa, a classical guitarist and Rachel, a singer; his fellow musician sons-in-law, Franco Platino and Timothy Burns; and his four creative grandchildren, Marco and Stella Platino, Rose and Leah Burns. Bill is also survived by the many wonderful family members and friends who exchanged humor and joy with Bill during his life. He will be greatly missed and will be remembered for his fun spirit and his huge heart. His family will have a celebration of his life for family and friends in the spring. In lieu of flowers, please send donations in Bill’s name to METAvivor or to the Children’s Hospital A. Barry Belman Endowment, Dept. of Urology.In lieu of flowers, please send donations in Bill’s name to METAvivor or to the Children’s Hospital A. Barry Belman Endowment, Dept. of Urology.
Published in The Washington Post on Feb. 4, 2018

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