WOODLAND, Calif. (KTXL) — For musical director James Glica-Hernandez, the curtain may have closed but the song continues.
For two decades, the 61-year-old brought smiles to the community through his performances and teachings at the Woodland Opera House, striking a chord with people of all ages.
“I was his vocal student of 11 years. He just brought me so much joy and I learned so many things from him,” former student Erin Bruni told FOX40.
“I’ve never seen a person just loved by everyone, but James was loved by everyone,” said Steve Cairns, president of the Woodland Opera House Board of Trustees.
In December, Glica-Hernandez began his nearly month-long battle with COVID-19, spending his final weeks in the hospital on a ventilator.
Before his death, he posted a message to his Facebook page urging loved ones to take the virus seriously.
“Hello, all family and friends,” Glica-Hernandez said through coughs. “I hope you all are staying well and out of the nightmare that is COVID-19.”
Those who knew Glica-Hernandez will remember him for his warm smile, larger than life personality and compassion for others.
“James really cared about people and he would ask people how they were doing and check in on people in a way that was so sincere,” recalled his friend Amy Shuman. “He really wanted to know how people were doing and would do everything he can to help people.”
In his dying hours, the people that he helped along the way repaid the favor with hundreds of his family and friends putting together an online music video and slideshow in his honor.
“So people really wanted a place to pour out all of our feelings and our love for James. We also believed that even though he was in a coma, he’d be able to hear the music,” Shuman explained.
“I guarantee you that James’ memory will go on for years to come,” Cairns said.
Glica-Hernandez also left an impact on local leaders. Sacramento councilmember Angelique Ashby took to social media to reflect on his passing, saying in part:
“COVID-19 has claimed the life of a much -oved former Natomas resident, teacher and friend … His legacy will be that of a loving husband, father, friend and teacher with the voice of an angel and the heart of a lion. We are better because he and David made this area their home.”
A GoFundMe has been set up to assist Glica-Hernandez’s family with medical bills. For those who want to contribute, tap or click here.