Wynton’s grandfather dies at 96

Ellis L. Marsalis Sr., the patriarch of a family of world famous jazz musicians, including his grandson Wynton, has died. He was 96.
A funeral was set for Thursday for Marsalis, who died Sunday.

Marsalis’ son, Ellis Jr., is a prominent New Orleans pianist and music professor who mentored crooner Harry Connick Jr. as well as four musician sons: Wynton, saxophonist Branford, trombonist Delfeayo and drummer Jason.
Marsalis Sr. was involved in the civil rights movement through ownership of a motel in suburban New Orleans whose guests included the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., New York U.S. Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and musicians such as Ray Charles.

Marsalis also helped found the Boosters Club, which assisted black residents of suburban Jefferson Parish in registering to vote.
He was born in Summit, Miss., and had lived in New Orleans since 1921. In 1936, he became the first black manager of an Esso service station in the city.

Marsalis opened the Marsalis Motel near the Mississippi River in 1943, a converted barn that featured a restaurant, lounge and swimming pool. The motel’s business dwindled after civil rights legislation in the 1960s allowed blacks to stay at formerly all-white inns. The motel closed in 1986 and was later demolished.
He is survived by his son, a daughter, Yvette M. Washington, seven grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at D.W. Rhodes Funeral Home in New Orleans.

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