August 2, 1939 – December 14, 2023
Throughout all the stages of his life, Hugh Partridge’s charm and enthusiasm compelled others to want to learn from him. His charismatic, yet always compassionate approach, made him an extraordinarily effective teacher of all manner of things – from showing the other neighborhood kids how to fix their bikes when he was a child, to helping others in their mutual aphasia journey after he had a stroke in 2015.
He was a lifelong advocate for the viola and classical music, and there are legions of people whose lives he touched by his abiding love for music. He taught budding violists at Butler University, Wichita State University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and thousands of young musicians participated in the Philharmonic Association – Triangle Youth Music, a non-profit he founded in 1988 and led for 30 years. Hugh was a consummate artist on the viola, playing countless recitals, and serving as Principal of the Indianapolis Symphony, the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra and the North Carolina Symphony. He delighted especially in being the father of three boys and in spending time with them.
Hugh did not have an easy path in life, beginning with the accidental death of his father when he was only 11 months old, and he learned to overcome life’s challenges with pluck and determination. He lived with metastatic prostate cancer for eight years before his body wore out, but he lived that time as fully as he was able.
Hugh’s interests were vast: he shot thousands of beautiful photographs, developing some of them in his home dark room; he rode motorcycles for hours in the New Mexican desert and the North Carolina countryside; he enjoyed walking the hedgerows in Kansas with his dog and taking an occasional gamebird for his family to eat; he read every single book written by his favorite authors; he loved to snorkel and hike to enjoy nature in general and wild plants in particular; he was an avid member of the Wheat Heritage Engine and Threshing Company and owned several antique engines; he encouraged living composers to add to the repertoire for viola and had several pieces dedicated to him; he enjoyed being out on the water and boating; and he loved a good conversation. He appreciated the fine craftsmanship of a stringed instrument or bow, a camera, a tool, a car or motorcycle, or a beautifully made firearm. He enjoyed the adventure of going to new places, meeting new people, experiencing local food, drink, art, culture and nature and had the good fortune to visit Argentina, Austria, Baha California, Belize, Croatia, Ecuador, England, France, the Galapagos Islands, Germany, Italy, Jamaica, the Leeward Isles, Mexico, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland and Tanzania.
He found lasting happiness with his third wife and partner, Margaret, whom he married in 1990. Hugh made a profound impact on every community in which he lived, and was recognized in North Carolina as a recipient of the Raleigh Medal of Art and the Swalin Music Educator Award, given by the North Carolina Symphony.
Hugh Partridge is preceded in death by his parents Merritt Ingersoll Partridge and Ada LeBaron Partridge, his brother Donal Merritt Partridge, and his first wife Sarah Carson Gierzynski. He is survived by his current wife Margaret McElrath Partridge of Cary, his second wife Marta Findlay Partridge of Apex, sons Hugh Partridge III (Tiffany) of North Vernon IN, F. Merritt Partridge (Jennifer) of Garner and E. Miles Partridge (Karen) of Apex, grandchildren Catherine Partridge Downs (Alex) of Vernon IN, William Joseph Partridge of North Vernon IN, Collin Merritt Partridge of North Vernon IN, and Jackson Merritt Partridge of Garner, nieces Diane Partridge Soha (Howard) of Green Cove Springs, FL and Linda Partridge Alderson (Nick) of Fleming Island FL, nephew Donal Merritt Partridge, Jr. (Lorrie) of Fleming Island FL, four great nieces and nephews and eight great-great nieces and nephews.
A celebration of his life will be held at the Cary Arts Center Theatre, 101 Dry Avenue, Cary, on January 5, 2024 at 7:30 pm.
Hugh would be happy for gifts in his honor to be made to the Triangle Land Conservancy; Triangle Aphasia Project, Unlimited; or United Strings of Color, Inc.