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Goodbye Teddy

Dearly departed Tacoma artist Teddy Haggarty's life to be celebrated this Friday

Teddy and Leonard Haggarty standing in front of Teddy’s art. Photo credit: teddy-michael-haggarty-memorial.org

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As we make our way through our lives, a little bit of anxiety works its way into the back of our minds, a question that goes something like, "Will we be missed when we're gone? Will we be remembered when we've left this mortal coil?" In most people's small orbit of close friends and family, the answer is typically "yes." Some people, though, pass with little fanfare, quietly disappearing and leaving little trace in their absence. Others leave a crater in their wake, a hole that begs to be filled with the love and celebration of a community.

Beloved Tacoma artist Teddy Haggarty is one of those people. Haggarty passed away in early September at the age of 64, having spent decades establishing himself as a charismatic, eccentric, and productive fixture in Tacoma's arts scene. A prolific painter and visual artist, music promoter, and poet, Haggarty also spent his fair share of time in Hollywood, most notably serving as Alec Baldwin's longtime stand-in. In remembrance of a life well-lived, Leonard Haggarty -- Teddy's brother -- has put together a hell of a send-off this Friday at the Temple Theatre.

"I have a 24-person African-American gospel choir, because Ted was very religious," says Leonard Haggarty. "And the last big event we did at Jazzbones featured Pig Snout as one of the bands, and it went over really well. They're opening the show. Of course, we've got the Twang Junkies and Bob Hill who, for 34 years, was in that band. And, of course, we have Alec Baldwin, who we were going to see in Israel (before Teddy passed). So, I very much think this would have been up Ted's alley. ... I mean, the reason we're doing this event is because Alec Baldwin called me. He said that we had to do this, and next thing you know, here we are."

Additionally, two bands that Teddy and Leonard Haggarty managed in the late ‘70s and ‘80s -- Strypes and Baby Knockers -- are reuniting with their original lineups to perform at the event. These bands' willingness to come back together after so many years is indicative to just how much affection Tacoma had for Teddy Haggarty, how deeply woven into the City of Destiny's fabric he was -- it's astonishing and heartening to see so many people coming out of the woodwork to send him off in style.

"(Teddy) actually wrote an article called ‘City of Destiny,' and he wrote it for The Rocket, which was like the Weekly Volcano back in the day," says Leonard Haggarty. "Ted and I both had good fortune, and we've traveled all over, and we made good livings, and had extraordinary friends, but this is the place we've always come back to. It wasn't by necessity that we lived here; it was by choice. ... As comfortable as Ted was sitting in a dive bar, talking to the person next to him, he was just as comfortable with those around him being in the level of the elite, without a distinction being made between the two. We weren't the type of people that would be globe-trotting and saying we were from Seattle."

While the event is free, there is a suggested $20 donation to help cover the costs of the memorial and renting the venue. Bidding farewell to a Tacoma institution like Teddy Haggarty will always be a bittersweet occasion -- especially when that passing is so shockingly abrupt -- but this Friday's event wouldn't be in Teddy's spirit if it were cloaked in downtrodden sorrow. Yes, we mourn together, but also be prepared for a hell of a show.

Teddy Haggarty Remembrance, w/ Strypes, Baby Knockers, Pig Snout, the Twang Junkies, Kenya Leger's Gospel Choir, David Richholt, Gary Shelhammer, Ed Perez, Shelly Devlin and more, 6 p.m., Friday, Nov. 17, $20 suggested donation, Temple Theatre, 47 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, 253.272.2042

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