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Manning Hamilton

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Manning Hamilton Obituary
Played with Tony Bennett in Army

Manning Hamilton, a North Jersey school principal way back when, was one to blow his own horn.

The trumpet-playing educator, who died recently at 93, had a parallel career in the '50s, '60s and '70s as the leader of a swing band. The 10-piece Manning Hamilton Orchestra performed weekends at weddings and galas and at such bygone Route 17 hot spots as Club 300 and the Swiss Chalet. Mr. Hamilton's wife, June, was the band's vocalist.

So popular were the Mannings that the Darlington Country Club made them co-social directors for the 1964 season. The Ramsey club's press release announcing the appointment said the Manning Hamilton Orchestra had accompanied guitar great Les Paul.

Mr. Manning also demonstrated his talent at schools where he was the principal Commodore Perry in Mahwah and Lincoln and Eisenhower in Wyckoff and helped students who showed an interest in the trumpet.

"He loved life and he loved music," his daughter Marcia Policastri said.

The Massachusetts native picked up the trumpet at age 13. While overseas with the Army in World War II, he wound up in the same musical band as Anthony Benedetto, a young soldier with velvet pipes.

Benedetto later Tony Bennett mentioned Mr. Hamilton in his 1998 autobiography, "The Good Life."

"Not long after V-E Day the band was moved about twenty kilometers east to a town called Kunselsau [Germany]. We set up shop in what they called 'the castle,' a beautiful old structure that looked like a schoolhouse. I shared a room with Manning Hamilton, one of the band's trumpeters, who also sang in the quartet. &"

Mr. Hamilton attended Boston University after the war and landed his first teaching job social studies, not music in Quincy, Mass. An opportunity to move up to administration brought him to New Jersey.

He built a reputation as an educator with rhythm.

"This Principal Really Swings," The Record declared over a 1967 entertainment column that noted Mr. Hamilton also was a whiz on the flugelhorn. "But Hamilton's is unusual amplified and giving out an echo-like sound via reverberator cqthat's his own invention."

Mr. Hamilton, of Ramsey, played the trumpet until a year and a half ago, accompanying his daughter's band, Marcia's Trio.

He died July 11 and is survived by his daughter, of Ramsey; a son, Ward Hamilton of Amherst, N.H.; two grandchildren, two step-grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. His wife of 63 years died in 2007.

Arrangements were by Becker Funeral Home, Westwood. A celebration of life will be held Aug. 6 in Braintree, Mass., and at a later time in New Jersey.


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