Masar Remembered as Generous, Inspiration to Many

October 25, 2011

Remembrances of Terry Masar are pouring in from around the Champaign-Urbana community, particularly from the music scene.

The Urbana man who operated Nature's Table restaurant died Sunday at the age of 61. Greg Danner says he was friends with Masar at the University of Illinois before he installed the restaurant's first stereo system in the early 80's. He says Nature's Table quickly became an institution for music, particularly jazz.

"I think what Terry was looking for in his group of friends was music students, and of course, a lot of the jazz musicians came from amongst them, and even the faculty," said Danner. "It immediately, like the day it opened, turned into a hangout for the U of I music department."

Danner says many of the performances at the restaurant were of the impromptu variety, and musicians that are still popular in the area today got their start there. U of I violin instructor Dorothy Martirano says she played in a string quartet at Nature's Table. She says Masar made a point of seeing that a lot of people, particularly young people, had a place to perform. She says some of those students went on to become successful in places like Chicago and New York.

And Martirano says Masar's personality kept students coming back to the restaurant.

"Everyone wanted to play at Nature's Table," she said. "So I feel fortunate to have been a part of that. And the other thing about Terry was that he was incredibly generous. If you were in some kind of financial need or any kind of need, he was very generous."

Nature's Table operated in the 1980's and 90's.

Terry Masar was found dead in an Urbana hotel room Sunday night. Authorities are calling it an 'unexpected death'. Autopsy results haven't been released.

Story source: WILL