Caesar LaMonaca passed away on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012, of a sudden heart attack, at the age of 87.
Cesare Vito LaMonaca was born on June 22, 1924, in Providence, R.I., to Caesar and Elisa LaMonaca. He was their second child, joining his sister Jean in this musically prominent family. The family moved to Miami in the late 1920s, where Caesar grew up playing in his father’s Drum and Bugle Corp and occasionally his father’s Bay Front Park Orchestra.
As a high school senior, Caesar enlisted in the Army Air Corps and served overseas during World War II as a member of the 337th Bomb Squadron, in the 96th Bomb Group. Upon the conclusion of the war and his honorable discharge, he attended the University of Florida in Gainesville and was a member of the Florida Gators football team. After a year, he transferred to the Julliard School of Music, where he completed his musical education and had the privilege of serving as an additional or substitute horn player with the New York Philharmonic on occasion. At that time, he secured a position with the New Orleans Symphony for two years before moving on to the Houston Symphony, where he played horn for 25 years. He frequently served as the players’ committee chairman, served a term as the Houston Musicians Union President, and was the horn instructor at the University of Houston. Upon retirement from the Houston Symphony, Caesar moved to Billings, where he ran his own piano and organ store, LaMonaca’s Music Center, for 15 years. He also served as the horn instructor for a number of years at Montana State University in Bozeman. He eventually sold the music store, but continued his piano tuning business until his death. His love and support of music and aspiring musicians continued throughout his entire life.
Caesar is survived by Mary, his wife of 44 years; and their three children, Anthony of Denver, Juliet of Portland, Ore., and Matthew of Billings; as well as Elisa Samorajski (Ted) of Houston and Mark (Paige) of Myrtle Beach, S.C., two children from his former marriage to Peggy Allen; his sister, Jean McNamee of Miami; his grandsons, Blake and Nicholas Whitaker of Houston and Michael LaMonaca of Las Vegas; his sisters-in-law, Nancy and Carol Critelli of Billings, and Stella Summy of Mesa, Ariz.; his nephew, Michael Summy and his partner Robb Miller of Seattle; niece Leanne Downs and her husband Dennis, sons Jacob and Nicholas London and daughters, Erinn and Elyse Downs, all of Boise, Idaho.
A memorial service will be held at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary on Friday, March 2, at 11 a.m., followed by interment with military honors at Mountview Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Critelli Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o Carol Critelli, 1203 Hillhaven Way, Billings, MT 59102. The Scholarship Fund is a fully recognized 501(c)(3) organization and, as such, donations are tax deductible. This fund recognizes deserving music students by awarding them full or partial scholarships for summer music camps.
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