Joseph W. Bachak, Jr., age 84, of Merritt Island, Fla., formerly of Greenfield Township, Pa., died Tuesday, February 26, 2013, following an illness. He is survived by his loving wife of 60 years, the former Pauline H. Gaumont.
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Born October 27, 1928, in Mayfield, Pa., he was the son of the late Joseph Sr. and Wanda (Poplick) Bachak. He was a 1946 graduate of Mayfield High School, attended the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music and received his Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in music from Boston University.
Joseph inherited his love for music from his father, Joseph Sr., who was an accomplished drummer and leader of several local bands. "Junior" Bachak accompanied his father at parties and weddings throughout the area and after graduating from high school, joined the military for two years on active duty. As a young talented trumpeteer, he was invited to join the Army band and toured Europe to help entertain his fellow troops. After his stint with the Army, he attended college and eventually landed a teaching position in Maryland. He would move on to teach music in Washington, D.C., Pitman, New Jersey, and in the Western Wayne and Lakeland school districts in Northeast Pennsylvania. Joseph's ability to teach a child how to play a musical instrument and how to read music was unmatched. Thousands of students can thank him for their special ability to appreciate the art of "making music."
For more than 60 years, Joseph entertained crowds with his trumpet talent, from playing with his 5-piece band for local weddings and affairs, to playing with a 25-piece big band entertaining Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy at their inaugural balls. He held the first trumpet chair accompanying such notables as Frankie Avalon, Bobby Vinton, Sammy Davis Jr., Liberace, the Mills Brothers, Arthur Godfrey, Rudy Vallee, the Lennon Sisters and Louis Armstrong.
When Joseph wasn't entertaining audiences, he was teaching young people his craft. He was proficient in every musical instrument and encouraged his students to try many instruments before focusing on one. He was particularly proud of the musical talent he helped create at the Western Wayne and Lakeland school districts. The marching bands and accompanying drill teams he created in both districts were the best in the area. Joseph brought the Washington Redskins Fight Song to Lakeland and made it a tradition at the Chiefs' football games. The Jazz Band he and fellow music teacher Frank Santoro assembled at Lakeland High School held a special place in his heart.
Joseph was extremely proud of his three children, Stephen and his wife, Kathleen of Eynon, Pa.; Daniel and his wife, Diane of Mayfield, Pa.; and Kathleen of Merritt Island, Fla. He was blessed with six grandchildren, Timothy Bachak, Jeffrey Bachak, Michael Bachak, Mary Bachak, Jason Kasperowski and James Kasperowski; and four great-grandchildren, Hannah Marie Bachak, Emalina Deninger, Clayton Deininger and Mason Deininger.
He is also survived by his two sisters, Dolores Bachak of Clarks Summit, Pa.; and Carol Pientka & husband, Leonard of Sayre, Pa.; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by two brothers, Eugene and Walter.
A private service was held in Merritt Island, Florida. Arrangements are under the care of the Carmine J. & Louis C. Parise Funeral Home and Cremation Services Inc., Farview & 41st streets, Carbondale. To send online condolences to the family, please visit www.parisefuneralhome.com.
Parise Funeral & Monument
89 Farview St. Carbondale, PA 18408
Published in Scranton Times on Feb. 28, 2013