South Pasadena Community Band
Ellen Cargo

Band to dedicate November 2nd Concert to

Hundred-Year Old Trombonist Helen Cargo


Helen may be the oldest trombonist still playing in organized musical groups.

She was born on October 21, 1916, in Iowa City, Iowa. Helen's family moved to Pittsburgh, PA when she was in the fifth grade. Helen began studying classical piano at age seven and continued playing piano to this day. In high school she asked the band director if she could play in the band and he told her he had a trombone she could play and take home to practice. She played trombone in the high school band and continued to play piano and added accordion.

Helen played trombone in several orchestras and bands in the Pittsburgh area including the Greater Pittsburg YMCA Symphony Orchestra and The Dean Sayer's All-Girl Orchestra. She also performed under the stage name Helen James in a trio as an accordionist and singer in the Pittsburg area.

After marriage and two sons the family moved to St. Petersburg, Florida. As the boys grew older, Helen joined the St. Petersburg Masonic Band where she still plays trombone.  When told that South Pasadena was forming a Community Band in 1989, Helen became a founding member.  Even at 100 she continues to perform with both the Masonic and South Pasadena bands. Helen attributes her excellent health to her music, both her breathing practice and exercising to keep her breath control. She attributes her mental alertness to the discipline of playing music.  Helen is a joy and inspiration to her fellow band members and to all who meet her.