Don Avery, 2009... and these days. Don Avery, 1959 AHS yearbookDonald Avery in 1959 AHS yearbook ...

The Bubs, an a capella singing-group sensation from Tufts University, came in second in the finals of NBC's "The Sing-Off," and Donald W. Avery was watching.The crooners were judged in the top two Dec. 21, but lost to Nota, singers from San Juan, Puerto Rico, won a Sony recording contract. Avery can always let his memory wander back to 1962, when he was a member of the original Bubs.

Avery, an Arlington native and 1959 graduate of Arlington High School (AHS), recalled how the group began: "The group name has always been Beelzebubs," he wrote, "but is often referred to the Bubs.

"We started with nine in the group, and it grew to between 12 and 14 over time, the number varying depending on relative strength of the different parts. We started out singing four-part harmony with a little bit of barbershop as part of our repertoire."

He said the original group sang not-so-well-known titles as "Shine," "Daddy, get your Baby out of Jail," "Cherry Orchid" and Mandy. He said the group's theme song was "Brothers in Song."

Karen Avery Kanter of Arlington, a 1972 graduate of AHS, put YourArlington in touch with her brother following an appeal on the Arlington e-mail list Saturday to vote online for the Bubs.

Avery, who lives in Gilroy, Calif., said he was "the only guy from Arlington that I know of." His pride remains after 47 years: "Today the group has grown to a well known and respected college a capella group and extremely talented.

"Truth be known," he added, "my talent in 1962 was far less than those of those singing today. In vogue today are a capella renditions of popular numbers" from the Who, Beatles, Queen and Michael Jackson.

Avery lived and attended school in Arlington until he entered Tufts University in the fall of 1959. He graduated from Tufts in 1963 with a degree in mechanical engineering. In 1971, he received a doctorate in aeronautical engineering in 1971.

After that, he received master's degrees in international relations and health fitness management.

He spent 28 years in the Navy as an aviator flying P-3 (Lockheed Electras), retiring from the Navy as a captain in 1991.

Following that, he managed programs for several defense contractors, including Lockheed, ITT until 2006.

These days, his activities include Red Cross, CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), tennis mentoring, AARP volunteer work and playing lots of tennis and racquetball.

"Live and health are good," he wrote.

He is married with three children and five grandchildren.


All photos except the one from Tufts are courtesy of Don Avery. This story was published Monday, Dec. 21, 2009.