Written By: Adam Dince
My dad, Bert Dince, was the son of Evelyn and Louis Dince, brother of Paul Dince, and a friend to everyone he met. He followed his dreams by making his living as a jazz pianist and piano teacher. While he could have enjoyed a more financially comfortable life by sticking with his accounting career, he opted to take a risk by going against his parents’ wishes and dedicating his life to his art and his passion—jazz music.
For the last 10 years of his life, my Dad made his home in Cape Cod, MA. He was a staple in the Barnstable community and was a highly respected musician. Bert taught piano to his students by day, and played in many of the upper-scale restaurants and hotels at night. He loved the Cape and the Cape loved him back. On many of my visits, he would take me to his favorite jazz spots, and it was always a sure bet that the band lead would ask my dad to sit in for a song or two.
My dad was my hero. He was a single father who raised his son all by himself. An old yet gentle soul that was always there for those that needed him. A humble man that rarely talked about himself. And a spirit that left behind a legacy that I would learn much about after he passed away.
When I arrived in the Cape to start closing out the last chapter of my dad’s life, I found his teaching schedule filled with students and phone numbers. It was a schedule in which the names hadn’t changed in years, and I knew it was my daunting responsibility to notify each of them of my father’s passing.
Throughout each call, I heard stories about how my dad had influenced so many lives. About how he helped his students uncover their natural musical abilities. I learned that my dad was not only a teacher to his students, but also a mentor, a father figure, and an extraordinary example of unconditional love. I know there’s an old adage that says, “You can’t be all things to all people,” but Bert Dince was.
On my last night in Barnstable, one of my dad’s students arranged a memorial service a local Church. When I arrived, I was overwhelmed by the turnout. Though only a few hours notice were given, the entire Church was packed with people who loved my dad. It made me wonder how many people would have come if it was my memorial.
Once everyone had settled in, I stood up and said a few words about my dad and what he meant to me. After I finished, I opened up the floor for all to speak. One by one, everyone stood up and shared stories about Bert. The last person to speak was a woman who was one of the students who had been with my dad the longest.
Mr. Dince taught me how to play the piano. Bert instilled in me the virtue that practice makes perfect. Yet, one thing I was never able to overcome was my fear of playing the piano in public. Though I’ve played the piano for years, I’ve never been able to get up in front of a room of people and play. It was something that drove Bert nuts. He always told me how good I was and how he wanted me to overcome my fear. And because I love Mr. Dince so much, I want to honor him, if it’s okay, by playing the last piece we worked on together.
The next few moments were awe inspiring. She was brilliant. She played, we cried, and when she was done, we all stood up and gave her a standing ovation.
I learned a lot from my dad. Not by listening to what he said, but by watching what he did. My dad taught me that taking care of people is our greatest responsibility in life and over the years, I’ve tried to do my best to be just like him.
In Mitch Albom’s book, “Have A Little Faith”, Mitch asked his Rabbi why people fear death. He answers that we fear death because of the unknown…what’s on the other side of life. But he says there’s something bigger than that that has people afraid to die. It’s the fear of being forgotten: The Second Death. Bert Dince, will never be forgotten. His spirit lives on in the people that were fortunate enough to know him.
Miss you, dad.