Obituary of Joseph F. LaRuffa
Longtime Fallsburg Band Director Joseph F. LaRuffa passed away at the age of 97 on Sunday, October 6, 2019.
Joe was born on March 19th, 1922 in Oyster Bay, New York to Frank and Angelina LaRuffa. Joe was the fourth oldest of eleven children. Through the years he spoke lovingly of his brother Anthony and his nine sisters. Joe is survived by five younger sisters; Marian, Louise, Angelina, Catherine and Frances.
After graduating Oyster Bay High School, Joe attended the University of Miami on a music scholarship. His undergraduate education was interrupted by his service during World War II. From 1943 to 1945 he served with the United States Army participating in campaigns throughout Europe. Joe was awarded the American Service Medal, the European, African and Middle Eastern Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.
After the war Joe completed his education earning a Bachelor of Science Degree from New York University in 1950 and a Master of Arts degree from Columbia University in 1954.
In 1950 Joe's first job as a music teacher and band director was at Altona Central School in Clinton County New York. In 1954 Joe moved to Sullivan County to accept a position as the music and band director at Fallsburg Central School where he stayed until his retirement in 1984.
In 1957 Joe married Jeannette Andresky, a local Hurleyville resident, and for nearly 62 years the two were inseparable. They raised their three children in the home that Jenny was born in and still resides, and each child later became a musician in their father's concert band; Mary Ann played flute, Angela played oboe and Frank played clarinet like his dad.
During Joe's tenure at Fallsburg his concert bands had a proud tradition. In addition to competing for many years at the highest level earning A and A+ ratings, the school concerts became a much anticipated event in the community. Some memorable performances of the Fallsburg concert band were at the 1964 World's Fair, the 1965 commencement ceremony of the now State University of New York at Sullivan and in 1966 the band had the honor of playing for President Lyndon B. Johnson at the opening ceremony for the now Ellenville Regional Hospital.
In recognition of his dedication as a teacher at Fallsburg, Joe received the Outstanding Secondary Educator Award in 1975 and in 2014 Joe was inducted into the Fallsburg Central School District Hall of Fame.
During Joe's teaching career at Fallsburg he served as the Chairman for the Hertz Scholarship. This fund, later named the Hertz-LaRuffa Scholarship, has provided financial assistance for graduating Fallsburg students for over 40 years.
In addition to teaching, Joe was a delegate to the New York State School Music Association representing the Clinton County Schools and later the Sullivan County Schools. Joe served as president of the Clinton County and the Sullivan County Music Education Association as well as organized and adjudicated many of the music programs in those counties during his 34 years of teaching.
As a committed educator Joe taught beyond the boundaries of his community and helped create the Empire State Music Camp in Hurleyville, New York in the 1960's. This summer camp provided young people the opportunity to broaden their knowledge and love of music in a beautiful mountain setting.
Joe served his community in many ways; a Town of Fallsburg Councilman for 16 years, a member of the Hurleyville Volunteer Fire Department for over 55 years, serving as their past secretary and treasurer; a Town of Fallsburg Lions Club member and a two-time president of the Hurleyville Chamber of Commerce.
Joe stayed active in retirement. In the summer months he gave private lessons at his home in Hurleyville. But once the snow came Joe called St. Petersburg, Florida his home. In St. Petersburg Joe taught for over 20 years in the Pinellas County Middle Schools and was very active in his Florida retirement community. He was instrumental in the community becoming resident owned and served as its first and acting president for four years.
Joe leaves behind to cherish his memory his loving wife and best friend, Jenny, his daughters Mary Ann and Angela, his son Frank and his wife Jennifer and his two grandchildren Olivia and Joe.
The LaRuffa family would like to express their deepest gratitude for the compassionate, professional and supportive care Joe received from the following agencies: Valerian Home Health Care Agency, The US Department of Veterans Affairs Hudson Valley Health Care System at Castle Point, and his hospice care team in Sullivan County. Memorial donations may be made to Hospice of Orange and Sullivan County.
Visitation will be held from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9pm on Friday, October 11, 2019. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 10am on Saturday, October 12th at Immaculate Conception Church, State Route 42, Woodbourne, NY 12788. Burial will follow at St. Peter's Cemetery, Monticello, NY with full military honors.
Arrangements under the care of Colonial Memorial Funeral Home, for further information call 845-434-7363 or visit www.colonialbryantfuneralhome.com.