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Columbia Missourian

Jim Hellmann remembered for his musical talents and love of nature

By Calder Cleavelin
May 18, 2012 | 6:10 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Friends and relatives of local musician Jim Hellmann will remember him both for his love of music and his love of the outdoors.

Mr. Hellmann of Columbia died Wednesday, May 16, 2012, while on a run in Rock Bridge Memorial State Park. He was 57.


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Mr. Hellmann was born Aug. 16, 1954, in St Louis, to Robert and Joanne (Diez) Hellmann.

Noted by family members as a “beautiful piano player and teacher,” Mr. Hellmann's mother cultivated his passion for music at an early age. As he grew older, Mr. Hellmann was able to be more musically self-motivated.

“He had been self-taught and self-trained on music since he was a teenager,” Mr. Hellman's daughter, Andrea Brown, said. “He kind of played everything."

Over the years, Mr. Hellmann earned a reputation as a talented musician in Columbia. He was admired for his skill on an impressive range of instruments — from the banjo, to the harmonica, to the upright double bass — but those close to him say he was most at home on the piano and acoustic guitar.

In what his older brother, Bob Hellmann, refers to as his brother's shining moment, Mr. Hellmann once got up to join the band at the wedding reception of his niece, Lindsey Lococo.

"And he was a hit," Bob Hellmann said. "That's how good he was."

Tim Hellmann, Mr. Hellmann's son, expressed admiration for his father's musical gifts: "He was very multitalented. I'll definitely try to follow in his footsteps."

Moreover, music was a way he could connect with his father.

“Every time we’d go fishing, we’d drink beer and play music,” Tim Hellmann said. “We’d improvise and sing songs about the fish we’d caught or the ones that got away.”

Mr. Hellmann was equally avid outdoorsman. He often gave his time to Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, constructing trails as a volunteer.

“He absolutely had an affinity for nature,” Brown said. “And he had an affinity for Rock Bridge State Park. He lost his dog, Comet, years ago on that same trail, so it all kind of fell into place that he died there."

Mr. Hellmann was also a pet owner, with a close relationship with his two dogs, Lucy and Gustav; two fish, George and Saddam; and two roosters, Al Capone and Rufio.

Mr. Hellmann's day job also allowed him to be outdoors. With his wife, Cathy Hellmann, he started Oak Forest Landscaping in the early 1980s.

His last lyrics as a songwriter will likely echo in the minds of those close to him, as they remember an outdoorsman and a musician, as well as a brother, father and friend:

“I have to go. A different world calls for me,” Mr. Hellmann wrote. “I’ll come back soon, and when I do, I’ll look for you.”

Mr. Hellmann is survived by his parents, Bob and Joanne Hellmann; his four brothers, Bob, Don, Greg and John Hellmann; his wife, Cathy Hellmann; two children, Andrea Brown and Tim Hellmann.

Services will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday at Cooper’s Landing, at 11505 S. Smith Hatchery Road. There, a second tribute for Mr. Hellmann will be held Aug. 17, the day after his 58th birthday.

Instead of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Second Chance Columbia, 24687 Highway 179, Booneville, MO 65233. It is an organization reflective of Mr. Hellmann's affection for stray animals. Donations can also be made in his honor to Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, 5901 S. Highway 163, Columbia, MO 65203.

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