The Gems - May 1963 - Photo by and Courtesy of Larry Kulai
The Gems in Nanaimo, BC at the Civic Arena - May 1963
Photo By and Courtesy of Larry Kulai
The Gems
Walla Walla, Washington
Portland, Oregon
1960 - 1965
And Back Together Again in 2008


Duane Gusse ~ Keyboards, Vocals
Larry Loney ~ Drums, Vocals
Ron Overman ~ Bass
Jim Reid ~ Guitar
Paul Wheeler ~ Guitar, Vocals

In Memory of

Duane Gusse

Walla Walla, Wash., Union-Bulletin

 Duane Robert Gusse
1944 - 2013

Duane Robert Gusse, age 69, passed away peacefully in his home in Olympia, on Feb. 1, 2013. He was born to Byron and Florence Gusse on Jan. 1, 1944, in Tacoma. He attended school in Waitsburg, where he discovered his talent and love for music and sports. While still in high school, he began his musical career playing keyboards and singing in popular local bands. He attended various colleges over the years including Central Washington University and Portland State University.

While in Portland, he met and married Delores Paulsen. Together they had three children, Yvonne Gusse Walker, Jeffrey Gusse and Steven Gusse. They also adopted Kimberly Gusse. Duane’s day job was for Dun and Bradstreet, but he lived for the music — playing with The Gems, Le Sabres and countless piano bars in the Portland Metro area. The family moved to Dayton in 1975 and he worked quality control for Green Giant.

He continued playing music — both with local groups and in piano bars. When he left Green Giant, he began a long career as an appraiser. In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s he worked for Columbia County — first as a field appraiser, then as the county assessor. During this time, he and Delores divorced; and he met and married Margaret MacKinnon, who was his soul mate and best friend for the next 31 years. They moved to Western Washington, eventually settling in Olympia. He continued his appraisal career culminating in opening up Gusse-Wilson Appraisal Services, Inc. with partners Scott and Jean-Marie Wilson.

In 2003 he began reconnecting with the members of several bands from the ‘60s and this led to a resurgence of his musical career. He played with the Dukes of Juke for several years before reuniting with The Gems. He retired in 2010 and was able to devote more time to music and entertaining the crowds. Some of his other joys included watching his son’s wrestling events, perfecting his backyard grilling skills, playing with his basset hounds and exploring grocery stores.

He is survived by his wife, Margaret; his children; 10 grandchildren; and his dogs, Ranger and Maddie.

A celebration of his life is being planned for June in the Walla Walla area

Larry, Duane, Ron, Paul, and Jim
We backed 'Jan and Dean' , and Bobby Bare in 1963, on their Northewest tours.  Jan and Dean were kinda sad without their reverb and echo.  Bobby Bare had '500 Miles'  and 'Detroit City' around that time.  Under the pseudonym Bill Parsons, he recorded "All-American Boy".  The crowds really loved that song.

We would play at the Division Street Corral one night, then the Cascade Club the next, or vice-versa.

Duane Gusse, 'The Gems', May 2007

Nagel's Big Apple nightclub in Portland, OR

Larry, Duane, Ron, Paul and Jim - 2008

The 'Gems' had a reunion in Walla Walla this past month.  It was the first time that all five of us had been together since 1963.   Ron Overman left us then to form Hawk and the Randelas, and later was with Don and the Goodtimes.

On the weekend of June 14th - 16th, The Gems had a reunion in Walla Walla, WA, our original hometown.  It was the first time in 45 years that all five of us had been together.  Ron, who now lives in Jasper, Arkansas, was giving three Christian Music concerts in Walla Walla that weekend, so Jim Reid, sent out E-Mails to the rest of us, and we put the whole thing together in three days.  It was a blast.  I'm the only one of the group still working a daily job, as the other four are retired.  Jim Reid retired as a Store Manager for Rite-Aid in Boise, ID.  Paul was a Food Broker, and lives in Wilsonville, OR.  Larry spent 35 years with Sears.  He lives in Arizona. Ron is a minister, as well as an entertainer.  I have my Residential Real Estate Appraisal business in Olympia, WA, as well as playing with the Dukes of Juke on some weekends.

Duane Gusse, July 2008

In 2008, I reported the first reunion of all five Gems since 1963.  That was really great, so we decided to have another one this last June.

We decided to bring instruments, and jam at the Rec Room of the Golden West Manor, where Larry Loney stays with his RV when in Walla Walla.  We'd just have friends and family, and have a good time.   The word spread around Walla Walla, that we were all going to be back in town.  We were told that a lot people wanted to see us, so we were asked if we would mind if they had a reception for us at the Sapolil Winery in Walla Walla.  We said OK,  but since three members hadn't touched instruments for 30 years, we weren't going to play at all.

I get the electronic version of the Walla Walla newspaper.  I opened the entertainment section to find we were scheduled to play at 6:00 on Sunday.  We figured we just about had to then, since it was advertised. (Crap)  So when we got to WW, we practiced for about four hours, put together (so to speak) 15 songs, and decided to let the chips fall as they may.

Sunday night, the place was just packed, and there was a large spill over onto the sidewalk outside.  After a couple of songs, we kinda hit our groove.  The crowd loved it and didn't seem to notice our screw ups.  We really had a good time.

A week or two later, we were asked by the Southeastern Washington Fair Board if we would be interested in playing dances under the big grandstand after the Rodeo on Friday and Saturday. (We did that every year between 1962 and 1965)   A bank in Walla Walla put up some good $$$$ for us so we were thrilled to do it.  I was told there were over 600 people there on Saturday night. I don't know, but that's what I was told.

So we're planning on doing some more gigs next year.  So the Gems have come back after 44 years.  We have been resurrected!

Duane Gusse, December 2009

The Gems - At The Fair, 2009

The "Gems", all five of us, got together again in June and played five dates in the Walla Walla Area.  It was great.  We are looking to do a little bit more than just two times a year.

Duane Gusse, July 2010


The Gems at the jam packed Walla Walla Elks Club on 7 May 2011 


88 Keys - Pioneer Square - Seattle

88 Keys - Pioneer Square - Seattle

The Gems at 88 Keys - Pioneer Square - Seattle

We "Gems" got together for another "Mini-Reunion" between October 5th. And October 9th. 

We played two engagements in Walla Walla, one in Yakima, and finally "88 Keys" in Pioneer Square, Seattle.
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Last Update:  1 March 2013
Credits:  Duane Gusse, Larry Kulai, Bill Donley, Tim J. Marsh
Band # 717