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Vernon C. Wagner Funeral Homes

655 Old Country Road, Plainview, NY

OBITUARY

Robert Stanley Dransite

May 10, 1933July 8, 2019

Bob Dransite, 86, a well known LI teacher and Jazz musician, died on July 8, 2019 after a brief illness. He was born in Export, Pennsylvania but his family later moved to Apollo, PA where he started his musical career. Bob studied the clarinet in Pittsburgh and parlayed that training into a business by playing club dates starting in the 7th grade. Despite the rigors and late nights of the club scene, he excelled academically to graduate as the Salutatorian of his high school class. He briefly worked at the local steel mill in Vandergrift to save money for his college education. While studying at the Eastman School of Music, he recorded with the Eastman Wind Ensemble conducted under Frederick Fennell. He also met his future wife, Jane Reidy Dransite, at Eastman where she was also a music student.

In the 1950's, Bob was drafted into the Army. As fate would have it, he was stationed at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, NY where he was able to stay close to his new wife as she worked with the Jack Parr show in Manhattan. While in the military, he played with the 328th Army Band. One highlight that he enjoyed was playing with the Army band in New York Harbor for the historic 1957 visit by Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh.

After settling in suburban Long Island, Bob taught music and conducted the bands at the Carle Place School District for 36 years before retiring in 1996. He also taught music at the collegiate level for Hofstra University, SUNY Stony Brook, Adelphi and Nassau Community College (NCC). He had recently retired from NCC in 2017 after 53 years of teaching woodwinds there.

As much as he enjoyed teaching thousands of students over the years, some of his greatest thrills were in the professional NY music scene. He loved the challenge of playing with, arguably, the greatest musicians in the world with his favorite type of music being Dixieland Jazz. He toured NY and Bermuda with the Clem De Rosa Orchestra playing the Benny Goodman chair on clarinet and was a member of the Clem De Rosa American Jazz Repertory Orchestra playing tenor sax. In the early 1980's, he also recorded with Clem's orchestra singing the LI theme song for the Long Island Tourism Bureau. This song was played repeatedly by Long Island and NY area radio stations as part the Bureau's advertising campaign. After Newsday interviewed Bob for an article about the local competition leading up to the selection of the song, the local stations started giving him on-air credit for his vocals.

In the 1980's and '90's, Bob also led jobs for the Peter Duchin Orchestra's and toured with the first band. This included soloing for President Reagan at the Waldorf Astoria, playing at a private party for Vice President Quayle in NJ, and meeting one of his music idols Frank Sinatra back stage in Cincinnati when both were performing at the same private party.

Closer to Long Island, Bob was also a player in the 4 piece band providing the music for the Massapequa Sound Investments fund raiser in the early 1990's. This event's master of ceremony was the famous Massapequa native, Alec Baldwin. Probably one of Bob's more unusual jobs came in 1995 when he was contacted by Paramount Pictures to perform on the bandstand in the Sabrina movie remake starring Harrison Ford, Greg Kinnear and Julia Ormond. It was supposed to be one week of filming on Morgan Island in Glen Cove, NY. It ended up taking four weeks to finish the night time dancing scenes. By the 2000's, Bob went on to lead the Al Miller Band.

Bob's storied career also included playing in the backup bands for notables such as Neil Sedaka, Chubby Checkers, Mel Torme, Vic Damone, Sarah Vaughn, Billy Eckstein, Dinah Washington, Jerry Vale, Buddy Greco, Vaughn Monroe and Dagmar. He also appeared in concert with jazz greats Eddie Daniels, Phil Woods, Bob Mintzer, Bill Watrous, Randy Brecker and Gerry Mulligan. And to show his loyalties to the New York area, his playing venues were as numerous as the number of musicians he had performed with. This included the San Su San, the British Embassy, Lincoln Center, Tavern on the Green, Oheka Castle, Windows on the World, River Club, West Point Officers Club, Oyster Bay Festival, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Argyle Park, Heckscher State Park, Eisenhower Park, Tilles Performing Arts Center, Queensborough Performing Arts Center and the NYC Library. One of his more unusual experiences was a job he had played at the United Nations building in the days before security was a concern. Running late to the job due to heavy Long Island traffic, he parked his car in front of the UN building to unload his saxophone and amplifier. The guards never told him to move it and it was still there at the end of his performance. He thought that it would have made an interesting picture if smart phones had existed then.

Bob loved his music but loved his family even more having recently celebrated his 62nd wedding anniversary with his wife Jane. He enjoyed boating with the family in the summer and traveling with his wife and children. He logged vacation trips to China, Ireland, Japan, St. Martin and states too numerous to list. He is survived by his wife Jane, his children Edward, Geraldine, Brian (spouse Linda), his grandchildren Fiona and John, and his brother Jerry (spouse Joy). A funeral mass is planned for July 11, 2019 at 11am, St. Pius X Church in Plainview, NY. Burial will be a private ceremony.

Services

  • Visitation Thursday, July 11, 2019
  • Funeral Mass Thursday, July 11, 2019
  • Burial Friday, July 12, 2019

Memories

Robert Stanley Dransite

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