Cesare Vito LaMonaca, 87, who played 25 years for the Houston Symphony and ran a music store in Billings, died Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012, of a heart attack.
He was born June 22, 1924, in Providence, R.I., the second child of Caesar and Elisa LaMonaca.
The family moved to Miami in the late 1920s, where he grew up playing in his father’s Drum and Bugle Corps and occasionally his father’s Bay Front Park Orchestra.
As a high school senior, he 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 served as an additional or substitute horn player with the New York Philharmonic.
He played 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, he moved to Billings, where he ran his own piano and organ store, LaMonaca’s Music Center, for 15 years. He also served as horn instructor for a number of years at Montana State University in Bozeman. He continued a piano tuning business until his death.
Survivors include his wife of 44 years, Mary; three children, Anthony of Denver, Juliet of Portland, Ore., and Matthew of Billings; two children from a previous marriage to Peggy Allen, Elisa Samorajski of Houston and Mark of Myrtle Beach, S.C.; a sister, Jean McNamee of Miami; and three grandsons.
Services will be at 11 a.m. March 2 at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary, followed by interment with military honors in Mountview Cemetery.
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 501(c)(3) organization, and donations are tax deductible. The fund awards music students scholarships for summer music camps.