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Haufler, Walter Eugene

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April 8, 1941 - June 8, 2017

Haufler, Walter Eugene

Gene Haufler, much-loved father and grandfather who passed away on June 8, 2017, had deep roots in Dallas. He was born on April 8, 1941, to Walter Eugen Haufler and Ruby Brunken Haufler, and his full name was Walter Eugene Haufler.

As a child and young man, Haufler attended Catholic schools in Dallas. These included St. Thomas Aquinas School, where he was a member of that school’s first graduation class, and then Jesuit High School, from which he graduated in 1959. At Jesuit, he was president of the Bowling Club and was recognized as “Most Easy Going.”

While at Jesuit, he and some fellow students formed the band called the Nightcaps, which went on to have a major influence on blues-rock music of the times. Haufler played rhythm guitar in the five-man band and was also an accomplished harmonica and self taught keyboard player.   After graduation, the song, “Wine, Wine, Wine,” written by fellow band member and lead singer, Billie Joe Shine, when they were juniors, became their first hit. It was recorded on the Vandan label in 1960, and it was also the lead song for their album by that same name in 1962. This song was listed in Texas Monthly in 2002 as one of the best 100 songs in the music history of Texas.

Along with their major hit, “Wine, Wine, Wine,” the Nightcaps also recorded another well-known song written by Shine, “Thunderbird.” This number inspired many musicians, including Jimmie Vaughan, who named his band the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and his younger brother, Stevie Ray Vaughan, who reportedly taught himself to play his first guitar by listening to songs that included the Nightcaps’ “Wine, Wine, Wine” and “Thunderbird.” Stevie Ray Vaughan later recorded “Thunderbird,” and so did ZZ Top.

The Nightcaps’ blues-infused rock, sometimes called garage rock, influenced music of the era and outlasted the “British invasion” of the 1960s. Many consider their music to be the most influential blues- rock to come out of Dallas. Oxford University Press’s Encyclopedia of Popular Music acknowledged the Nightcaps as “one of the first widely known white blues bands.” The group toured as headliners, mainly in the South, and they opened for other performers, including Jimmy Reed, Ike and Tina Turner, and Bo Diddley.

During this time, Haufler also pursued studies at Southern Methodist University, and in 1968 married his former wife, née Carolyn Coffee. Their twin daughters, Jennifer and Heidi, were born in 1969, and they too grew up in Dallas graduating from the University of Texas at Austin. Over the years, with his cousins, he worked at the Lago movie theater, a family-owned movie theater in east Dallas, and had a long career in the film distribution business.

As a young man, he pursued a pilot’s license and enjoyed flying in his spare time. Having a lifelong love of boating, he acquired a Captain’s license which allowed him to navigate ocean waters in his beloved ‘Mainship’.

Most important to Haufler over the years was time he spent with his daughters and their families. It was also important to him to continue performing with the Nightcaps when the group played for the Knights of Columbus and for other audiences and venues in Dallas. In addition, he could often be seen on weekends doing something else he enjoyed as a conductor for the McKinney Avenue Trolley in uptown Dallas wearing a trolley-driver uniform instead of his favorite clothes, which were Hawaiian shirt, shorts, and boat shoes.

In 2009 he and his fellow Nightcaps musicians received a major recognition for the music they had performed through the years. That year, they were recognized by the Texas Senate for their 50th year in show business. The proclamation declared: “The Nightcaps became fixtures in the Dallas music scene and had an enormous influence on blues music and the rhythm and blues acts that would follow them; they do indeed deserve recognition for their enduring talent and for providing the public with half a century of first-rate musical entertainment.”

Haufler is survived by his twin daughters, Jennifer Spivey and Heidi Paredes; his son-in law, Craig Spivey; and five grandchildren: Garrett Spivey, Jonathan Paredes, Nicole Spivey, James Paredes, and Ashley Paredes. All live in Dallas. The grandchildren have followed in their grandfather’s footsteps with their own schooling. St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School has been the alma mater for Garrett and Nicole.  Garrett and Jonathan are now students at Jesuit College Preparatory School. Haufler is also survived by his sister, Anne Boyd and her husband, Ted Boyd, who live in southern Arizona.

The family requests that anyone who wishes to remember Gene Haufler with a tribute might, instead of flowers, contribute to a memorial at Jesuit College Preparatory School, https://www.jesuitcp.org/giving/memorial.

Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:00 am on Tuesday, June 27, 2017 at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, 6306 Kenwood Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75214.

Interment will follow at Grove Hill Cemetery, 3920 Samuell Blvd, Dallas, Texas 75228.

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Bobby Rambo

June 26, 2017 7:55PM

Gene was an old friend. We both grew up in Dallas playing music. Gene and the Nightcaps were a heavy influence in the Dallas music scene. We had a mutual respect for each other, in music and both of us being Guitar Slingers. My thoughts and prayers are with the family and heartfelt sympathy in this time sorrow. God Bless my old friend. I hope I will see Gene again, and hope is a good thing.....