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It was a fitting farewell to the late music lover Sebastian Paul Musco, says Business Journal Editor at Large Rick Reiff. His report:

Some 250 celebrants gathered March 5 at the Chapman University concert hall named for Paul Musco and wife Marybelle to remember the son of a school janitor from Providence, R.I., who became one of Orange County’s most beloved philanthropists.

Chapman President Daniele Struppa described Musco as a modern-day Medici, who “saw that his role was to be a catalyst for the best that society can offer.”

A Medici with a wry sense of humor: Struppa recalled Musco once phoning him with an invitation to lunch the same day. When the school’s president explained that he was already booked, Musco replied, “Oh, that’s too bad, because I had a $1 million check I wanted to give you.”

“Clearly, I rescheduled my other lunch,” said Struppa, who spoke along with Chapman President Emeritus Jim Doti, Orange County School of the Arts founder Ralph Opacic, Los Angeles Opera CEO Christopher Koelsch and Musco’s accountant/buddy Frank DiBella.

With Marybelle and others wiping away tears, the attendees were regaled with performances by Chapman and OCSA artists, as well as soloists from LA Opera.

The dozens of musicians and singers crowded on stage for the finale, a sublime rendition of Leonard Bernstein’s “Make Our Garden Grow,” affirming that the legacy of Musco, who died Sept. 18, lives on.

When Duvall Hecht sold Costa Mesa’s Books on Tape Inc. in 2001 to Random House, his wife said that he bought two things: “a Porsche and an 18-wheeler.”

The rational for the Porsche was simple enough, noted a prior Business Journal feature. Hecht in 1974 sold his Porsche and used the $4,500 in proceeds to start Books on Tape—a business born out of frustration of listening to “bad music and worse news” during commutes to Los Angeles.

The business grew to $25 million in yearly sales by the time he exited.

The 18-wheeler? “I like moving big things around,” he told the Business Journal in 2006.

A rowing gold medalist in the 1956 Olympics, he had been the founding coach of the UCI’s crew program in the 1960s and ’70s.

“For 10 years, I drove the shell hauler, a 60-foot trailer, to competitions around the country,” Hecht said. “So, I was used to long drives.”

Hecht, who died Feb. 10 at his Costa Mesa home, will be honored by UCI’s rowing team and others on what would have been his 92nd birthday, April 23, at the UCI boathouse in Newport Beach.

Jeffrey Redeker, the incoming president of Irvine’s Beach Cities Commercial Bank, also used a lengthy drive to good use, finding inspiration for the new bank’s name.

“I was driving home from Mammoth and took the 15 Freeway to the 91 and there was the sign that says ‘Beach Cities.’ When you see that sign, it tells you that you’re almost home,” he tells our Peter J. Brennan.

For more on the two newest Irvine banks scheduled to open in the coming months, see Brennan’s story on Page 1.

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Mark Mueller
Mark Mueller
Mark is the Editor-in-Chief of the Orange County Business Journal, one of the premier regional business newspapers in the country. He’s the fifth person to hold the editor’s position in the paper’s long history. He oversees a staff of about 15 people. The OCBJ is considered a must-read for area business executives. The print edition of the paper is the primary source of local news for most of the Business Journal’s subscribers, which includes most of OC’s major corporate and community players. Mark’s been with the paper since 2005, and long served as the real estate reporter for the paper, breaking hundreds of commercial and residential real estate stories. He took on the editor’s position in 2018.

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