April 30, 2003
Walter Fuller, a Trumpeter Who Sought Rights, Dies at 93


SAN DIEGO, April 29 Walter Fuller, a jazz trumpeter who was believed to be the last surviving member of the band of Earl Hines and who pushed for civil rights on the San Diego jazz scene in the 1940's, died here on April 20. He was 93.

Born in Dyersburg, Tenn., Mr. Fuller grew up in Chicago and was influenced by Louis Armstrong. He joined Hines in 1930 and was credited with helping form the band's sound. He sang and scatted on the band's 1933 hit "Rosetta," which became his signature tune and nickname.

When Hines disbanded the orchestra in 1940, Mr. Fuller started his own big band.

He started playing in San Diego in the mid-1940's with a one-month engagement at the Club Royal; he stayed at the club for a dozen years.

He protested the club's policy of requiring black customers to stand in the rear of the building, even if seats were available in front. After threatening to fire him, the club's managers allowed all customers to sit wherever they wanted.

Mr. Fuller managed to change the listings in the local musicians union chapter, which had separated whites and blacks. In 1952 he became the first black director on the local board of the union.

His survivors include his daughter, Rosetta Fuller of San Diego; two grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild.