PICO BLVD — Gerald “Gerry” McCabe, a furniture designer whose passion for woodworking and love of music led to the creation of the folk music institution McCabe’s Guitar Shop here, died last Sunday in Eugene, Ore., two days after suffering a heart attack, family members said. He was 82.

McCabe, who was fond of the ocean, yoga, classic French Citroens and natural foods, opened the guitar shop in 1958, specializing in the repair of acoustic guitars, banjos, mandolins and other folk instruments. While he focused mainly on his design studio, those affiliated with the guitar shop said it wouldn’t have been possible without the early guidance and enthusiasm provided by McCabe.

Artists like Jackson Browne, Jeff Buckley, Kate Wolf and Mike Seeger played there, as well as guitarist and record producer Ry Cooder, who was 13 years old when he would get off the bus and drop in to see which famous musician would pop in. The shop was celebrated for the intimate concerts that have been held for decades and played a critical role in the evolution of the Southern California folk music community.

“The place is truly a musical oasis,” said Dave Zeitlin, a close friend of McCabe who taught guitar lessons at the shop for over 40 years. “It was huge. I remember seeing Jackson Browne when he was first starting out. It is a marvelous place and serves the public in a way that no other guitar stores in the area do. I still dream that I work there. We dealt with everybody the same way, from top professionals to the 7-year-old beginner.

“Gerry was a nice guy, a little aloof and he had these piercing eyes. I liked him. He was a marvelous guy.”

Those close to McCabe give credit to his partner’s, Walter Camp and Bob Riskin, for expanding the shop, making it what it is today. They allowed McCabe to focus on his other passions, which included restoring old boats and building a home in Santa Monica Canyon. McCabe, who sold his stake in the guitar shop in 1986, also taught design at local universities and art schools and became a yoga instructor. Family members and friends said he also drove race cars.

“Gerry was the epitome of life, of art, of generosity and loving sweet humor,” said longtime friend Gilah Yelin Hirsch. “I am honored to have known him over many years in various ways. His legacy is immense. In his utterly modest way, he was the center of many creative and loving constellations of very gifted people, overlapping communities that formed around him and his many interests.”

Gerald Lawrence McCabe was born in Long Beach on Jan. 30, 1927. After graduating from Long Beach Polytechnic High School, he served in the Navy during World War II. He earned a bachelor’s degree at UCLA and a master’s at Cal State Long Beach, both in fine arts.

McCabe opened a custom furniture business in Santa Monica in the mid-1950s. His first wife, Marcia Berman, was a successful folk singer, and soon her friends were bringing their instruments to McCabe and asking him to repair them.

That inspired him to open the guitar shop, at 3015 Pico Blvd. Camp became the first employee and introduced a table, chairs and coffee pot. An ethnomusicologist named Ed Kahn had the book and record concession.

“He always enjoyed music,” said Berman, who met McCabe when the two were taking a folk music class. “He was a very easy-going, non-judgmental person who was extremely talented, very modest and very fun loving. He loved to have a good laugh and had a good sense of humor that he retained towards the end.”

McCabe’s work was featured often in The Los Angeles Times’ weekly Home magazine and was regularly showcased in the Pasadena Art Museum’s series of California Design exhibits. A famous Julius Shulman photograph of Pierre Koenig shows the architect standing near a McCabe-designed stereo cabinet.

McCabe lived and worked at studios in Venice for most of his career, then moved to San Pedro in the late 1990s. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2004, and he soon moved to Eugene to be closer to his daughters.

Daughter Hally McCabe remembers spending countless hours at her dad’s design studio and the guitar shop, sitting on his lap playing with a classic cash register.

“As a teenager I hung out at that store and eventually worked there for awhile,” she said. “ I saw so many musicians come through those doors.”

What she remembers most about her dad was his love of wood. Her father seemed to always be running his hands along a piece of furniture, checking to see if his workers had sanded his pieces just right. She still has a dining room table her father built for her, as well as a jewelry box made of maple.

“He was always doing things his own way,” Hally McCabe said. “He didn’t care what everyone else was doing.”

His other daughter, Molly McCabe, said her father was unique because he could see things in 3D, a trait she picked up and uses in her own design business, A Kitchen That Works. She also shares her father’s dyslexia and his respect for maintaining a health body. McCabe didn’t let his children eat sweets.

“He lived his life the way he wanted to,” Molly McCabe said.

In addition to his two daughters, McCabe is survived by his sister Janet Owens; and two grandchildren.

A celebration of his life will be held Jan. 30 at Hally McCabe’s home in Eugene. A celebration in Los Angeles will be announced.

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