H.K. Silvey, out of this world fiddler

THEODOSIA, Mo. (KY3) – In Ozark County, when people think of Theodosia, they think of big bass at Bull Shoals.

But a mile from the bridge is a little white house. It is the house of a violin player.

“I’ve never been so old,” joked HK Silvey.

HK has been playing the violin longer than most of us are alive. He taught himself to play as a child on his uncle Jesse’s precious violin. He obtained the blessing of his aunt Beulah. Uncle Jesse didn’t know.

“She said, ‘Be sure and put it back the way you found it. Well, that would be our little secret,” HK said. “So it lasted about three years.”

Over the three years of secret dates, HK has learned to play very well. But also around this time, his uncle Jesse got wise and called HK to a crowded room at a music party. He gave her the violin and said, “play a tune”.

“And I see him standing in the doorway with a big smile on his face,” HK said while playing. “And so after that, every time during a musical evening, somewhere during the night, he would give me the violin to play.”

One night, HK’s mother was there… her violin playing was also a secret hidden from her.

“She was very religious,” HK said of her mother. “At the time, the violin was considered an instrument of the devil. And she wasn’t going to help her son play that thing.

But after hearing what HK could do, she saved some money and bought him a violin for his 18th birthday. Soon he was competing all over the United States.

You could say his violin playing was out of this world.

HK participated in all these competitions thanks to his many transfers while working for Boeing and Martin & Marietta. During the week, he was an inspector. He helped create the Titan and Saturn rockets that the United States used to go into space and later to the moon.

“I was the middleman between the contractor, Boeing and NASA,” HK said. “I had to convince NASA that, ‘hey, this (rocket) is fine. It’s going to work.'”

Then on weekends, he took part in a violin competition and walked away with a prize.

Thanks to its dedication to the space program, HK got a little surprise.

“All the people who worked on this (project),” HK said, “their names are on microfilm and buried up there on the moon. So I tell people if you ever get up there, my name is up there somewhere!”

Years ago he left the moon for the lowing of dairy cows. But HK never stopped playing this violin. Whether in McClurg or the 19s, he was the star entertainment at Hootin and Hollerin in Gainesville.

Last fall, the 89-year-old received a huge hootin’ award. HK was named Parade Marshal.

But he didn’t play that night. Today, in his little white house, his violin rests peacefully.

HK thinks a stroke a few years ago robbed him of the dexterity he needed to play.

“It affected my way of speaking,” HK said. “But it wasn’t bad. I must have had it in my sleep. But I can never play again.

Today, his music lives on through the many students he has mentored. Brett Dudenhoeffer from Marshfield is one of them.

“When it comes to Missouri music in particular,” Dudenhoeffer said, “(HK) is just an absolute legend. (He) really helped shape it and really inspired so many other young violinists to keep the music going. music.

You might spot Brett at some Missouri State University games. He was asked to play the national anthem more than once. Thus, it carries on the legacy of HK, just like NASA. Its Artemis 1 rocket is set to launch next week; in hopes of sending Americans to the moon again.

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