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Obituary: Frederick L. Del Monte / Longtime band director

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

By Teresa F. Lindeman, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Frederick L. Del Monte loved a good marching tune, so his band members played several before and during services Friday for the long-time music educator and the director of both the Del Monte Band and the Pittsburgh Letter Carriers Band.

Mr. Del Monte, 80, who died in Pittsburgh on Oct. 21, had won numerous awards in his career, including 1979 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year while he was working as director of junior high bands and orchestras in the North Hills School District.

Outside school walls, he was known for performing in and directing different bands that played for church events, parades and even at Kennywood.

The Pittsburgh Letter Carriers Band, a mix of postal carriers and other musicians just interested in performing, is one of only a few left in the country. The group could handle jazz, popular and concert music, but Mr. Del Monte's favorite was clear. "When it comes to doing marches, this band is tops," he told a reporter a few years ago. "We play inspiring marches that make people want to tap their feet."

A native of McKees Rocks, Mr. Del Monte played clarinet but later would pick up numerous other instruments. He also wrote music, including one of the pieces played Friday.

"Fred often mixed humor with his directing, making up pet names for musical terms or song titles," said longtime band member Sam Manganello. "For example, he would count huckleberry-huckleberry for 4/4 time, or blueberry-blueberry for 3/4 time."

Margaret Bauer, executive director of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association, remembered that a few years ago Mr. Del Monte organized the crew from the Pittsburgh district -- which happens to be District 1 -- into writing and singing a funny song about how they were No. 1. "He could just make you laugh."

He began studying music professionally at Duquesne University only to have his studies interrupted by World War II. During the war, his service came with the 279th Army Band, which performed from Normandy to Rhineland and Central Europe.

Back at Duquesne, he finished his bachelor's degree in the late 1940s and earned a master's in 1952, both from the school of music.

He spent about 15 years as instrumental music supervisor for the West Allegheny Joint School System, moving to the North Hills district in the 1960s. He organized the North Area Band and Orchestra Festival in the North Hills area.

Mr. Del Monte retired in 1985 but remained active in many organizations.

In addition to his wife, Alice Del Monte of Squirrel Hill, he is survived by a son, Fred of Squirrel Hill; a daughter, Jan Del Monte of Squirrel Hill; two brothers, Vincent of Mt. Lebanon, and John of Bethel Park; and two sisters, Rina Allen, of Emsworth and Eva Gould of Windgap.

Arrangements were handled by Edward P. Kanai Funeral Home, Greenfield.

Teresa Lindeman can be reached at tlindeman@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2018.

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