DALLAS — Leonard F. Sabalesky, 84, of Dallas, formerly of Kingston and Ashley, passed away at home in Dallas, on April 1, 2014.
He was born in Ashley on April 26, 1929, and was a son of the late Michael and Frances Zugarek Sabalesky.
He was a graduate of Ashley High School, Wilkes University and Scranton University, where he received his Master's Degree.
He was an instrumental band and general music educator at the Wyoming Valley West Middle School, Kingston, where he was named "Teacher of the Year" for District 9 in 1989. He was awarded a citation of excellence for his work with students as a teacher, educational psychologist and learning specialist. He developed innovative ways of teaching music, phonics, speech, language and motor development for children.
In recent years, he received the University of Scranton's Alumni Achievement Award.
Leonard was an accomplished professional musician and served in the U.S. Air Force Band. He was a music writer and arranger, having written dozens of orchestral and big band arrangements for Lee Vincent Orchestra and U.S. Air Force Band. He was also a member of Joe Sable's Big Band. As a member of the Lee Vincent Orchestra for over 35 years, he appeared weekly on live television broadcasts. He also played in back-up bands for many other top artists including Tony Bennet, Perry Como, Sergio Franchi, Bobby Vinton, Diana Ross, Johnny Mathis and Frank Sinatra Jr. He specialized in tenor, baritone and alto saxophone, clarinet and flute, but was well versed in playing and teaching other instruments, especially woodwinds.
At the age of 16, he began working for the Charles and Mary Music Store, Wilkes Barre, where he began learning the art of repairing musical instruments. He continued repairing musical instruments and developing repair techniques for the rest of his life, becoming a distinguished go-to repair specialist for many well-known musicians, schools and orchestras who entrusted their most valuable instruments to his skilled hands.
He was preceded in death by sisters Anna Doran, Julia Sokolski, Mary Ziembo and Helen Niemenski; brother, Joseph Sable; and infant brother, Peter.
He is survived by his companion, Jane A. Balavage; former wife, Josephine Butka Sabalesky; sister Alice Christman; daughters, Darice Januziewicz, Kingston; Denise Scott, Long Beach, Calif.; Dr. Doreen Sabalesky-Rodarte, Houston, Texas; Deborah Sabalesky, Wilkes-Barre; Deanna Klingman, Clarks Summit; and sons, David, Atlanta, Ga., and Daniel, San Francisco, Calif.; several grandchildren; great-grandchildren.
Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in the Our Lady of Victory Church, Harveys Lake, with the Rev. Daniel Toomey officiating. Friends may call 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Curtis L. Swanson Funeral Home Inc., corner of routes 29 and 118, Pikes Creek.
The family request memorial donations to be made to Performance Music at the University of Scranton, Attn: Cheryl Boga, 800 Linden St., Scranton, PA 18510; or the Wounded Warrior Project, PO BOX 758517, Topeka, KS 66675.
Online condolences can be made at www.clswansonfuneralhome.com.