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Montour Schools: Alumni band gathering to honor late former director

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

By Lynn Shea

Members of the Montour Alumni Band have gotten together every other year since 1990, but the death of their beloved director has prompted an impromptu, off-year reunion for Saturday night.

Joseph Picchi, who directed the Montour band from 1949 to 1983, died in January. He was a lifelong resident of Greenfield.

Although a reunion hadn't been scheduled for this year, about 100 former musicians and squad girls are expected to be on hand at Saturday's Montour Band Festival to offer a final salute to Picchi. Some are coming from as far away as Texas.

Graduates from as far back as 1962 will perform the school's traditional pregame, fight song, alma mater and the "Star-Spangled Banner" at the opening of the festival at 7 p.m. in the Montour High School stadium on Clever Road.

While some of the alumni have gone on to pursue careers in music and music education, including four who are now high school band directors, many don't play an instrument or march a step except at these reunions.

"It's weird, as soon as you hear the music, it comes right back. You almost get chills thinking about it," said Lyndia Stauffer.

Stauffer, a former majorette and drum major who graduated in 1973, is now a physical therapist living in Thornburg.

"We remember what to do, but sometimes we get a little more tired doing it," she said with a laugh.

The group has also established a scholarship fund in Picchi's honor.

Those wishing to contribute can send a check to the Montour Band Parents Association, "J.C. Picchi Memorial Scholarship Fund", Clever Road, McKees Rocks, PA 15136.

The group had one rehearsal Sunday and will practice again at 9 a.m. Saturday on the high school field. Anyone interested in performing is invited to attend.

Other reunion activities scheduled for the weekend are a dedication ceremony on Saturday.

Just before to the performance, alumni band director Bob Coulter will present a plaque to current director Tim Lucas.

The plaque is dedicated to all of the school's band members in tribute to Picchi.

Picchi's widow Mary will also be on hand to donate one of the former band director's famed gold blazers for the band's display case.

Lynn Shea is a freelance writer.

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