Jerry Enenstein, 1942–2021

The Chicago Classical Guitar Society is saddened to hear of the passing of Jerry Enenstein. Jerry was a CCGS board member since the 1970s. He served in numerous roles for CCGS, including Vice President and Treasurer, and was a regular attendee of Chicago guitar events. For a special tribute, here are remembrances from several of Jerry’s friends.

Richard Brune:

I first met Jerry after moving to Chicago in 1972, where Jerry was already very involved with the guitar society. He was a tireless volunteer who helped keep the flame of interest burning among enthusiasts throughout the decades with his selfless dedication to the details of running a volunteer organization. Thanks to his efforts and many other volunteers, Chicago was a key center for the classical guitar and its growth among the general public and Jerry’s legacy in this growth continues to the present. He will be gratefully remembered by guitar aficionados throughout Chicago.

Julie Goldberg:

I am so sad to hear of Jerry Enenstein’s passing.  Jerry and his long-time partner Helen Gallagher were supporters of classical guitarists both developing and accomplished.  I first met Jerry when I was a young student performing for the Chicago Classical Guitar Society Member Recitals. He kindly applauded and offered kind words for my still developing guitar playing. When I returned to Chicago after finishing my Master’s Degree in Cincinnati, Jerry and Hellen regularly attended my Chicago area performances, always listening intensely and providing thoughtful observations about the music and performance.  I will miss talking with Jerry about all things guitar and bicycle riding (an interest we both shared) before concerts and during intermissions.  I hope to be able to provide support and encouragement to other young guitarists the same way Jerry did for me.

Pamela Kimmel:

I met Jerry Enenstein in 1964 at the Old Town School of Folk Music where we both studied with Ray Tate.  Jerry’s love of the guitar was obvious to those who knew him.  He service to the Chicago Classical Guitar Society (and it’s earlier iteration, the Mid-America Classical Guitar Society) was a gift to our community.   He worked tirelessly as treasurer,   proof-read every issue of Chicago Guitar for over 10 years, and never missed a board meeting even when he started having serious health issues.    Attending society concerts, I always looked forward to seeing Jerry and chatting a while during intermission.  He always had a smile and a humorous comment or two to share.  He will be greatly missed by all of us.

Neil Mermelstein:

Jerry Enenstein passed away peacefully on April 13, 2021, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease and COVID-19. He was 79 years old. Arrangements were made to donate his body to science, as Jerry wished. He had a love of classical guitar and a great sense of humor. Jerry was an active member of the Chicago Classical Guitar Society and served as treasurer, board member, and newsletter advisor for many years, handling the society finances, membership records, and mailing lists, tabulating the society’s 1989 membership survey, and helping out with other activities. He attended every available classical guitar concert (society-sponsored and not) until he physically couldn’t. He owned several guitars and an extensive collection of classical guitar recordings/albums. I first met Jerry at a concert or guitar society event in 1971, and we remained friends ever since. Sheri and I enjoyed knowing Jerry and will miss him.

Brian Torosian:

I first met Jerry at a CCGS concert at Northeastern Illinois University.  Anne Waller encouraged her students to become involved with CCGS, and Jerry was volunteering at the membership table. I never imagined I would have the privilege of teaching at NEIU and being CCGS president years later. Jerry was a friend and supporter along the way. Like many Chicago guitarists, he was in the front row for my concerts, and offered many useful comments afterwards. In our board meetings, we often deferred to Jerry’s experience as a long-time board member and treasurer. He was a great help to me when I become president. Jerry was very sharp and had a quick wit, I always enjoyed talking and joking around with him. He was an avid bicyclist, and would often ride to our meetings. I thank Jerry for his friendship and all his work for the benefit of the classical guitar.

Anne Waller:

Jerry was involved in the Mid-America Guitar Society when first joined as a student in the early 1970’s. I got to know him better when I joined the board in 1978-79. Jerry was always a dedicated and enthusiastic supporter of the guitar and the Chicago Classical Guitar Society’s activities. He was always a voice of reason in our financial planning. He helped us set realistic goals, bringing a common sense perspective that helped us to stay afloat for many decades. We are all indebted to dedicated enthusiasts like Jerry who have helped to promote the guitar to a broader audience. 

Jerry Picture