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Your Stories: Joshua Langfur

6:38 PM, Feb 6, 2013   |    comments
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A local man has had a storied career. You might think his time as a hurricane hunter would top the list of accomplishments, but no, there are so many more.

He's 92 years old and can still rock the cello. Joshua Langfur grew up loving music.

"My dad was a cellist and he started me playing the cello which I was real serious about. I eventually won a scholarship to the University of Miami for music and I played with the Miami Symphony and then the war came along and changed my plan," says Langfur.

He enlisted in the Navy and focused on aviation, an obvious choice being that Langfur already had his commercial pilot's license.

"They sent me down to Pensacola for flight training and put us through an accelerated course because they needed pilots so badly at the start of the war," says Langfur.

During his 28 years in the Navy, Langfur worked his way up to Commander of the Hurricane Hunters, flying directly into the eyes of huge storms to measure things like wind speed.

"You see many strange things in the eye of the hurricane. "I've seen whales and ships and birds seeking refuge inside the eye of the storm," says Langfur.

He did this dozens of times. "It wasn't terrifying after you made the penetration. It was very quiet in there and peaceful and then we'd climb up to about 20,000 feet and go out the top," says Langfur.

And his job in the Navy didn't end there. "I flew the Berlin Airlift and I did surveillance over Cuba during the Missile Crisis and during World War II I was up in the South Pacific," says Langfur.

When he was on solid ground, he met his wife of more than six decades. She was also in the military.

"Officers weren't supposed to fraternize with enlisted personnel so I always used to introduce Grace as my cousin," says Langfur.

She was with him through it all, his job in the Navy and then what came next. He flew commercially, taught math, but perhaps the most impressive came when he took his musical talents to another level.

"I played in the Arkansas Symphony, the Memphis Symphony," says Langfur.

And that led to much bigger things. "I started doing recording work. We were backup like studio musicians. We did backup for Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond and Isaac Hayes and all the big names back in the '60s," says Langfur.

You can hear his strings on classics like 'In the Ghetto' and 'Shaft.'

"It was thrilling to meet these people. I remember when I ran into Neil Diamond at American Studios in Memphis. I just ran into him and he said, 'Hi I'm Neil Diamond.'"

And he still gets a royalty check in the mail every now and again.

"I feel like I led a good life. I can't complain. I got my wife and we are together with our family here in the lovely town of Oak Ridge and I've got a lot to be thankful for," says Langfur.

Joshua Langfur, a hurricane hunter who stormed onto the music scene and left a lasting legacy.

One of your stories. There's no place like this one.

 

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