OBITUARY

Joseph P. Grasso Sr.

August 2, 1933October 9, 2021

Joseph P. Grasso Sr., longtime Newtown resident and music teacher, passed away peacefully in his sleep on October 9, 2021.

Joe was born on August 2, 1933 to Samuel and Josephine (Attardo) Grasso. He grew up in New Britain, CT, where he attended New Britain High School. While there, he was a pitcher on both the high school and local American Legion baseball teams, as well as a clarinet and saxophone player in the high school band. In Joe's senior year, he served as the student conductor for the band. He graduated from New Britain High in 1951.

Upon graduation, Joe attended Boston University as a music education major. He was a member of the marching band at BU, as well as the symphonic band, of which he was also the vice president his senior year. While at BU, Joe also had the honor of playing a concert with Louis Armstrong. Joe graduated from BU in 1955 and enlisted in the United States Army, where he served as a musician in Germany. After his service, Joe became the band director at Bethel High School, where he served from 1957-1959.

In 1960, Joe married Audrey Long, also of New Britain and a fellow graduate of the Boston University School of Music. Joe and Audrey moved to Newtown and Joe took a job as a music teacher in the Newtown Public Schools that same year. At the time, there was no high school band program and Joe was the choir and band director for both the middle school and high school. He spent much of his energy developing the musical talents of middle school students, many of whom matured into accomplished musicians that started a long tradition of exemplary musical programs at Newtown High School. During this time, Joe received his Master’s in Music Education at Western CT State College (now University) and became the Director of Music for the Newtown school system. Eventually, Joe was able to focus primarily on the high school band programs. At that time, he also conducted the Newtown Choral Society and the St. Rose Church Choir.

Under Joe's leadership, the Newtown High School band program was consistently regarded as one of the top programs in Connecticut. The band regularly participated in nationwide adjudications and performed in musical tours in Europe. Joe particularly enjoyed the European tours, as well as regular performances at school football games. He retired from teaching in 1992 and joined the Newtown Lions Club, serving as president for two years. He also conducted the choir at Heritage Village.

Joe was predeceased by Audrey, his wife of 56 years. He will be sorely missed by his sister Marilyn, his brothers Raymond and Ronald, his sons Joseph Jr., Mark (Wendy), Michael (Mary), and his daughter Amy (Meghan). Joe is also survived by his beloved grandchildren Samuel, Olivia, Charlotte, James, and Margaret.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Rose Roman Catholic Church in Newtown on October 14, 2021 at 10:30 a.m. Interment will be private. Spadaccino and Gallagher Funeral Home in Monroe will be handling the arrangements. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to Danbury Regional Hospice. Online condolences may be left at SpadaccinoFuneralHome.com.

Services

PREVIOUS SERVICES:

  • Mass of Christian Burial

    Thursday, October 14, 2021

    VIEW VIDEO

OTHER SERVICES:

  • Interment will be Private

Memories

Joseph P. Grasso Sr.

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Unger Adele

October 23, 2021

I am so sorry to just be seeing this. Mr Grasso was one of a kind. I will NEVER forget our trip to Europe and playing Stars and Stripes under the Golden Roof. I get goosebumps to this day remembering it. That and looking out to the Alps playing through the crescendos of Gustov Mahler. He was a perfectionist with a great sense of humor. Anyone that was in band learned hard work, perfect practice, lots of percent practice pays off. You will be missed ❤️

Cindy Lee Nyitray

October 21, 2021

I met Mr. Grasso in 1969 when, as a junior, I moved to Newtown. Having never moved before I found it difficult to make friends so I was lost and severely depressed. Somehow I got the courage to approach Mr. Grasso and ask if he would consider letting me accompany the chorus. I had been doing it since 5th grade and starting in 7th grade I was under the tutelage of a music teacher who was a retired opera singer. He really helped me to understand how to best support whomever I was accompanying.

Mr. Grasso kind of scowled at me over his glasses and said he would audition me for the job. The next day we met and he put sheet music after sheet music for me to sightread, each one more difficult than the last. Then he had me play just the soprano and tenor lines together, etc. Thankfully he agreed that I would be a capable accompanist.

He literally pulled me up out of a severe depression although I don’t know if he knew that.

The first memory of my senior year was walking through the front entrance of the brand new high school and off to my left was a stunning auditorium. Better than that was a 7 ft. brand new Yamaha grand piano! I became excited about my senior year immediately. I only needed 4 credits to graduate so Mr. Grasso worked with my guidance counselor scheduling back-to-back study halls so I had an almost 2-hour period to just play and practice the piano. Mr. Grasso gave me a key to the piano, the ultimate gift.

Mr. Grasso taught me so much about accompanying that I soon learned it would be my life’s hobby and place to escape to whenever I had the opportunity.

Mr. Grasso would frequently give me a ride home after school. The very last ride I confided to him that I had also played oboe and clarinet for years.
I thought he was going to drive off the road!

I love you, Mr. Grasso!

Brigette Sorensen

October 20, 2021

To Joes Family:
What a wonderful, genuine man! I had the honor to serve on a committee with Joe in the early 2000’s which ultimately created the Cultural Arts Commission in Newtown. We were all of like minds sharing the beauty of Art & Music. He was a treasure. Thank you for sharing him with the rest of us.
Blessings,
Brigette Sørensen

Richard Goodman

October 18, 2021

Every single member of the Grasso family made a major impact on every single member of the Goodman family. Miss you Joe and Audrey, we will remember you always.

Richard Goodman, D.D.S. (ret.)

John Falkowski

October 18, 2021

Dear Wendy , Very sorry about your loss, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family .


Sincerely,
John Falkowski and the staff of Green Funeral Home

Tim Kayfus

October 15, 2021

My sincere condolences to the Grasso family. I had the extreme pleasure of being under Mr. Grasso's guidance from the fall of 1971 to the Spring of 1975.

I will never forget that day when I went into his office as a freshman at NHS, and saw that picture on the wall of him (holding a clarinet) with a group of other musicians, one being Louie Armstrong (whom he was standing beside). At that young age I knew this man was something special.

Mr. Grasso was firm, intense, and dedicated...but he was also kind...even when you messed up at a concert (which I did!). Obviously, we've all had many teachers during our respective education, and we remember those that played a significant part in our lives.

Mr. Grasso was one whom I'll never forget, and who really went the distance to make a difference in the lives of his students.

Jill Maliskas-Ryan

October 14, 2021

I remember traveling from California to Newtown ... pregnant ... to honor Mr. Grasso. He gave everything he had to his students and was the epitome of selflessness. I feel honored to have known him.

Rachel Zierzow

October 13, 2021

Deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Grasso. He will be missed by so many.

Rachel Zierzow

October 13, 2021

Mr. Grasso taught us so many important skills in addition to music, like being on time, taking responsibility, being prepared, working hard, and working as a team. He led by example with integrity and dedication. I will always be grateful for all that he taught me and the opportunities that he created for me playing in various orchestras after high school. My best memories from high school were from band, led by our beloved Mr. Grasso.

Scott McWhirt

October 13, 2021

I had the pleasure of playing in the NHS bands from 1981 until graduating in 1985. Mr. Grasso was a dedicated and understanding educator. I still have fond memories of our European trip my freshman year! From the many competitions, parades, football games, and concerts the band members were given some of the best experiences of high school and life lessons were learned.
To the Grasso family, bless you at this time of loss. Cherish the wonderful memories.
Rest in Peace Mr. Grasso