What would compel an 83-year-old retired businessman to become a street performer, playing for spare change and bills dropped in a bucket?
It’s just three factors, according to Larry Kingsley: Love, loss and purpose.
The “love” part is for Kingsley’s wife of 23 years, Georgeanne Kingsley. Unfortunately, she is also the “loss.”
About three years ago, Georgeanne Kingsley was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
“The doctor says ‘You know, it’s going to be difficult,'” Kingsley said. “And I said I know, but I’m married to her so I’m going to be with her.'”
Kingsley decided to pick an unusual way to stay connected with his wife: He dug out his trumpet and taught himself how to play the instrument again. He’d been in a high school marching band in the 1950s and played the instrument when he served in the Air Force in the 1960s, but decades later, he was a bit rusty, until he logged some practice time.
Finally, he felt confident enough to play for strangers on the street three times a week —with his wife by his side.
Kingsley said his wife didn’t always understand why he was playing, occasionally assuming that he was panhandling for cash and shouting at him to get a real job.
While Kingsley was collecting donations, it wasn’t for his own use: He was raising money to donate to Alzheimer’s research and help scientists work to find a cure for the illness afflicting his wife. Every dollar, he said, is donated.
But Georgeanne Kingsley died in August 2022.
“The day that she died, I played that night,” Kingsley said. “But in my mind I was just saying ‘The show goes on.'”
Since his wife’s death, Kingsley has only been more determined to make a difference. He started playing six nights a week, and in total has raised more than $15,000.
Kingsley said that he’ll continue playing until the disease is just a memory.