Valentino DeCastris

Obituary
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VALENTINO E. DECASTRIS 'VAL EDDY', 88 ROCKFORD - Valentino E. DeCastris "Val Eddy" 88 of Rockford died August 4, 2014. He was born at home in south Rockford on July 3, 1926 to Orlando and Amalia (Ludovici) DeCastris, immigrants from Ferentino, Italy, Rockford's Sister City. Orlando, a leader in Rockford's Italian community died when Val was 16. Amalia didn't speak, read or write English, nor drive, so Val became man of the family early. Strongly family and faith-oriented, he graduated with West High School's first class of 1944. A self-taught professional musician for over 70 years, he first performed at age 12. As a child, he repaired a broken mandolin, inspired by hearing one played by neighbor Gabriel Giorgi (Zeke Giorgi's father). He was a WWII veteran performing with the Army's Dance and Marching bands. He married Arthur Murray dance instructor Patricia Macaluso in 1949, who was largely responsible for his success, traveling nationally with him, chronicling his career. A consummate entertainer, he played the bass, mandolin and banjo. A vocalist, band leader and music instructor, he was happiest playing music, a "musician's musician." Performed regionally, nationally and internationally with notables Boyd Raeburn, Tommy Dorsey, Woody Herman, Del Courtney, Bob Vincent, Louie Armstrong, Lawrence Welk, Les Brown, Stan Kenton, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Danny Thomas, Jack Benny, and Martha Raye. He and Rockford pianist extraordinaire Homer Carlson were the Val Eddy Duo for 50 years, recording for MCA. Dave Pitts (Lamond) joined them in the 1950's as the Val Eddy Trio, performing live nightly on WTVO's "The Song Shop." Val's bands had extended engagements at the Town Lounge, Times Lounge, Red Garter, Carriage House, Cart, Faust, Stockholm Inn, Riveria Ballroom, Manor, Gun Club, Stan Hack's, Brandywine, Chicago hotels and resorts. He was beloved by all, his many fans following him through the years and miles. He knew thousands of songs and remembered everyone's favorites. Val preferred progressive jazz and felt jazz was America's world legacy. Received Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rockford Area Music Industry organization, Special Recognition from the Greater Rockford Italian American Association and Illinois State House Resolution. Father of the Year at Ethnic Heritage Museum and recipient with Homer Carlson of Rockford's Sesquicentennial Medal for "outstanding artistic contributions to the city". Survivors are daughter Valeri DeCastris; son-in-law David Beccue; sister Mary Zandonatti; brother-in-law Jimmy Capicotte; nieces, nephews, cousins here and in Italy and ex-wife Marian. Predeceased by first wife Pat, her twin Connie and brother-in-law Richard Zandonatti. Thanks to Lincolnshire Place, Hospice of America and VA. Visitation 5 to 9 p.m. August 13, at Fitzgerald Funeral Home, 1860 South Mulford. Mass at 11 a.m. at Holy Family Church August 14 with visitation 10 to 11 am. In lieu of flowers, please make memorials to Val DeCastris c/o 918 Cunningham Street, Rockford, IL 61102 to fund music scholarships for underprivileged youth. Condolences at www.fitzgeraldfh.com.
Funeral Home
Fitzgerald Funeral Home & Crematory - Rockford
1860 S. Mulford  Rockford, IL 61108
815-226-2273
Funeral Home Details
Published in Rockford Register Star from Aug. 10 to Aug. 11, 2014
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