Jake Glidewell touched many lives in his 94 years, some in his personal relationships with family and friends and some through virtue of the pleasure that he provided in the 80 years that he entertained audiences with his fiddle. Jake Glidewell became an inductee into the Texas Fiddlers Hall of Fame and was a highly involved member of a number of organizations supporting fiddling in Texas and kept playing the fiddler competitively even in his 90’s. Even when he was ill, he had family bring him his fiddle so that he could pass the time in his hospital bed fiddling.
Growing up as a farm boy with his other 7 siblings, Jake’s passion for music developed rather early on. His first instrument was a banjo which he quickly mastered before moving on to learn the guitar. It was only a matter of time before he was sawing away on the fiddle and he knew that it was his weapon of choice. He saved up the money to buy his very first fiddle on his own by working for fifty cents a day chopping cotton and played to his heart’s content until he moved to west Texas. Glidewell was an electrician for DuPont until he had a stroke in 1969, impacting the use of his left arm and the fingers in both of his hands. It had been years since he had played the fiddle at that point but his doctor suggested that he try it out again as a way to help him to rehabilitate his range of movement. He tried it out tentatively and the passion was re-ignited in him once again and he played on, spending whatever time he could at competitions in not just Texas but in other southern states as well. Glidewell was involved with organizations such as the Lone Star Fiddler Organization, Texas Old Time Fiddlers Association, and United Fiddlers Association.
For Jake, it wasn’t just enough to play – he also liked to create enthusiasm and support of fiddling in others as well. He loved to pass along his knowledge to anyone who showed an interest, children and adults alike. He taught the children of friends how to play and worked with Wade Stockton of Victoria, Texas, as a teenager to create for him an enduring hobby that he still feeds. His family says that he loved all of his musician friends from the youngster to the old timers.
Bessie Glidewell was the love of Jake’s life and they were together for 66 years until her death. Their two sons gave them four grandchildren and the couple was fortunate enough to also be blessed with 5 great grandchildren. His children describe him as a devoted father who was always available to support them in everything they did and they always picture him in his cowboy hat, walking tall and smoking a cigar. They are proud of the open minded way that he viewed the world, always listening to the opinions of others. Jake outlived so many of his friends and family and his life of fiddling left the world a better place.