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Ernie Bucio, 53, succumbs
Ernie Bucio, the well-known Ceres musician who played with a myriad of local musicians and well-known entertainers, died in a Modesto hospital Saturday evening following a massive stroke he suffered on Aug. 15.

Bucio, 53, remained in a coma at Doctors Medical Center since being stricken on at Gottschalk Music Center which he recently went into a partnership to own. The well-liked music figure was with wife Karen Bucio, and business partner Jan Leer at the time the stroke occurred.

A musician, band leader and music teacher, Bucio was well-known for his Little Big Band, which performed music dating back to the 1930s and 1940s. The band was founded in 1980 and performed countless times for the Ceres Concerts in the Park series.

Bucio attended Ceres schools in the 1970s. Former teacher Jack Hunter followed Bucio throughout his music career.

"He was one of those guys who would give you the shirt off his back," said Hunter, who enjoyed Bucio's music at his 80th birthday party in October. "He was a staunch devotee to live music and would get up a group and play at the drop of a hat for whatever. He was also notorious among the musicians for calling at the last minute."

Hunter said Bucio rounded up a small group to play two numbers at the Hickman Charter School graduation in honor of one of his music students who was graduating in June.

"That's the kind of guy he was."

Among those who have enjoyed his music are celebrities Carol Channing, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Bob Newhart, Rich Little and Marilyn Borden.

In July, the Bucios purchased Gottschalk Music Center with partners Leer and Nkechi Ikpo. Under different ownership, Bucio worked for close to two decades as the outside sales representative while privately tutoring music students.

Mr. Bucio led a by-invitation-only Gottschalk Concert Band which played at Carnegie Hall in New York City in March.

Bucio was known for impersonating legendary band leader John Philip Sousa at a show were he led popular classic American march tunes.

During the recent X-Fest, Bucio assembled a band of super hero characters, himself playing Nacho Libre.

Other bands Bucio has been involved in include the Ernie Bucio Latin Jazz Orchestra, the Central Valley Brass Quintet, and the Hilmar Community Band. His New Orleans Travelin' Band trekked to New Orleans' French Quarter Festival for performances and to Sacramento for Jazz Jubilee there. He also helped to organize the first Modesto Jazz Festival in 2009.