Don DePalma
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It is with great sadness to announce the passing of Don DePalma, our brother, friend, mentor, and musical legend. Don succumbed to complications from Covid-19. He passed away peacefully. During high school, he played with a band called the Blues Messengers, which later became better known as the Wildweeds, with Al Anderson. In 1968 Don played as a member of CRT's traveling outreach program and worked for Paul Brown as a teacher. Paul Brown developed the Monday Night Jazz series and Don worked under him in its fledgling years in Hartford 's north end. Monday Night Jazz was relocated to Bushnell Park where it has been thriving ever since. In 1970, Don opened for Led Zeppelin, and in the same year, opened for Sly and the Family Stone while with a band called US 69 which cut an album on Buddah records. During this time Don successfully transitioned from trumpet to piano, the instrument by which he is most known to his many fans. Don began playing at Joey's club in Hartford which started a band called Collaboration. In the 1970's, Don became friends with Jackie McLean, jazz legend and the creator of the Artist's Collective in Hartford , CT. Don was appointed musical director of the Collective's music department under the guidance of Jackie. When Joey's Club moved, Don became a founding father of the legendary 880 Club where he helped to launch the careers of budding stars Steve Davis, Nat Reeves, Mario Pavone, Tom Chapin, Sue Terry as well as that of the band Street Temperature. Don also began the Featured Artist's series at the 880 Club. "Pianist Don DePalma has been a vital presence on the Hartford jazz scene for decades, having played with a veritable who's who of visiting jazz stars as leader of the legendary 880 Club's house band." - Hartford Jazz Society He leaves behind his brothers Bob and Ray, sister Rhonda Lavado and her husband Victor, niece Deena Lavado, nephew VJ Lavado, his children Katie and John, all his cousins, and special friends Rose Foote-Roy, Bill Roy, Alexis Roy and Liam Roy. Aside from his musical genius, his other passion was cooking. Nothing would make him happier than to cook for the people he loved. His specialties were linguine with broccoli and pork roast and a killer red sauce. Don was the life of the party. There are no calling hours. There will be a celebration of Don's life on a date yet to be announced. Donations can be made in Don's name to American Diabetes Association, donations.diabetes.org

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Published in Hartford Courant on May 18, 2021.
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38 entries
June 1, 2021
It is with great sympathy that I share with so many people of the passing, of Don. I played with him, once, and believe me, it was memorable. A great musician, and equally a great person. My heart goes out to Bob and his family. Danny Goodchild
Danny Goodchild
Friend
May 31, 2021
Don was not only a great musician but a great human being as well. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him on and off stage. If there is jazz in heaven, it just got a lot better. Bobby, there are no words to express my sympathy for your great loss.
Bob Fitzgibbon
Friend
May 26, 2021
My deepest sympathy Bobby to you and your family. I know what a difficult time this is for you all and my thoughts and prayers are with you.
Judith R wilks
Friend
May 26, 2021
What a shock to hear of Donnie’s passing! He was a great guy and fantastic musician. May he Rest In Peace.
John S. Mariano
Friend
May 26, 2021
I'll love you forever Donnie. Mario and I have treasured your warmth and your deep friendship. I send my sympathy to your family.

Mary Pavone
Friend
May 24, 2021
My Dad was a drummer in CT, and he enjoyed Don's piano, and the 880 club. I was fortunate to have worked with Don, at all places Home Depot ,and in our many conversations he talked about his children,how proud he was.
My condolences to the family.
cynthia l giard
Coworker
May 22, 2021
Many of us would not have the appreciation for jazz/music if it hadn't been for the exposure "Donnie" gave us in our youth...and today. He also introduced many of us, who became friends.
Peace and love to the family. His music and spirit lives on in all of us.
Sharon D. Mounds
Friend
May 21, 2021
So very sad.... I was a friend of the Rozie family since 1966, we all had such a powerful connection with Donnie, Wild Weeds.... ain't no good to cry! Love's a game you're in it, and you were so proud of it.... WAH! RIP, Donnie!
Anita Bornheim
Friend
May 20, 2021
Don was always the guy we looked up to ,as local hartford musicians , those shows at the Black Dog Tavern . I was honored to be in OPEN SKY wth him , many gigs at the Hartford HILTON.
R.I.P my brother
mike solak
Friend
May 19, 2021
So sorry to learn of the loss of your loved one. A genuine musical talent that we were fortunate to have the pleasure of enjoying. Our sympathy to all the DePalma family.
Our hope is that your sadness will soon be replaced with happy, loving memories to treasure forever.
Merrily Cassina & fellow musician: Roger Wilks.
May 19, 2021
Don was a great friend and mentor to many of the "880 community". He will be missed by many who's lives he touched with his music.

Frank & Sheryl Giguere
Friend
May 19, 2021
Donny was a fixture in my sister P. Stacey Scott Durso's life he was a funny guy and I 1st met him when I was 9 years old. Both him and his brother Bob were so friendly and amazing musicians. They also played with Billy Durso (my niece Tala Durso's dad). Whenever I ran into Donny the 1st thing he always did was ask about my amazing parents. It truly shows the person's integrity when they remember your parents. Bob I am so truly sorry for your loss...he was not only your brother but a true friend and partner in music. God Bless.
Kathy Scott Royal
Friend
May 19, 2021
Don was a great guy I've known since High School....lot of laughs. When we owned Jim Carty's on the Berlin Turnpike in the mid-'70's, Don would bring in a group of fantastic musicians on their off nites--usually Tuesdays--we'd make up different band names and pack the place....they were phenomenal ! For my parent's 35th Anniversary party, Donny put together a great group of musicians and the great vocalist Kitty Riley to come to the Solomom Welles House in Old Wethersfield to play for my parents and their friends and family before they went to their regular gigs in Hartford. A cop showed up around 8:30 due to a noise complaint and I brought him in to show a great group of musicians and a bunch of older folk enjoying themselves. He said let the show go on! That's how I remember Don--always giving and having a good time. Hadn't seen him in a long while but some people you don't forget. My deepest sympathies to all his family and friends on the passing of a truly good guy.
Steve Kelly
Friend
May 19, 2021
Such a great soul. So many laughs while making music, talking and hangin. Donnie, you are missed!
John Roderick
Friend
May 19, 2021
Dear Bob, Rhonda and Ray - Don will be missed by so many people but his legacy lives on in every musician he ever jammed with or taught. My fond memories of Don are many and are as diverse as his talents. May he rest in peace and may your entire family be comforted by your fond memories and the love you share. You are all in my thoughts and prayers. - Dave O'Brien
David A. O'Brien
Friend
May 19, 2021
I have so many fond memories of listening and playing with Donny at the 880 and other venues. He was a musical force and a mentor to many. Donny was always encouraging and his big soul is a loss to all.
RIP brother.
Peter McEachern
Peter McEachern
Friend
May 19, 2021
RIP....You will greatly missed. The many laughs and times we shared will always be with us.
Rick Botticello
Classmate
May 18, 2021
I was saddened to hear about Don’s passing. I first met him when he played with the Wild Weeds and often saw him backstage at music functions for 30+ more years. Don was part of the Hartford area Blues and Jazz fabric, was a truly great man and old friend who will be missed.
Al Goff
May 18, 2021
There was nobody who made me laugh harder than Donny. Nearly knocked over a hotdog cart in Downtown Hartford because he always knew my one unique trigger. Every time I spoke with Donny while planning an event and in need of his talents, he would pull that trigger. The hiring process was often interrupted with uncontrollable laughter. Needless to say it was well worth those interruptions. Donny played with his heart and soul. You will be missed my friend. My thoughts and prayers are with the DePalma family. Peace to all.

A friend
May 18, 2021
Katie and John,

We are so sorry to hear about your dad. You are in our thoughts.

Hugs to you both.

Lisa and Jim
Lisa Moynihan
Neighbor
May 18, 2021
Sleep in peace. Thank you for the contribution of your talents that entertained so many of us through the years. God bless. Keep rocking in heaven. Deepest condolences to his family and friends .
Kathleen Neary Stephens
Friend
May 18, 2021
Please accept my condolences on Don's untimely demise. I'm sure the Hartford musical community will miss his presence
frank sanzo
May 18, 2021
I was very saddened to learn that Don has passed away. He was truly wonderful person and a very talented and creative musician that will be sorely missed by all. My condolences to the DePalma family.
Sebastian Camilleri
Classmate
May 18, 2021
So sorry to hear of his death!! I was a regular at the 880 Club for many years and Donnie was always so gracious and talented. He will be deeply missed among the jazz aficionados of Hartford, and will always be remembered as an extraordinary pianist and musician. Rest in peace, buddy.
Pan Riley
May 18, 2021
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow. It was wonderful getting to know you and ur loved ones may you Rest In Peace now
Jennifer Grampetro
Friend
May 18, 2021
Wonderful man. Taught me how to read music. Celebrated my 21st. Birthday with Don and a bottle of Ouzo. My deepest sympathy to his loved ones. Linda Giachello Casanova.
Linda G. Casanova
Friend
May 18, 2021
People are brought into your life at certain times,I worked with his brother Ray who became great friends..and then got to know the family more and spent evenings with the whole gang listening to Don and his pals play at area venues..even spent a Thanksgiving with the family a few years ago.. He truly was a friend to all and I was blessed to get to know him.. my deepest condolences to family and friends xoxo
Alison G Wagner
Friend
May 18, 2021
Don, Thank you for the many years of tribute and contribution to society and the musical world. You leave indelible memories. R.I.P.
Friend
May 18, 2021
Bob, Ray and Rhonda, and family,
We are saddened to hear of your loss. Knowing him as a kid who had such a passion for music and a personality that drew everyone to him, will make his loss even greater. We have lost another music great. He will be missed by so many.
Our deepest condolences
Bruno and Lind(Merlo) Cerati
Linda Cerati
Friend
May 18, 2021
I was devastated to hear about Donnie's passing! He got me my first gig in Hartford over 40 years ago & was always a mentor & great friend!! His spirit & musical legacy will live on!! R.I.P my friend
George Sovak
Friend
May 18, 2021
In loving memory of a wonderful person. We will love you and miss you always. I have fond memories of Don as my saxophone teacher and his brother teaching music at the Artist Collective.
Paul Newman
Student
May 18, 2021
Donnie was a beautiful soul who I enjoyed a friendship with for about 48 years. He had an amazing family growing up so it’s no surprise how he turned out. I will sorely miss you Donnie. My condolences to his children, and siblings. Rhonda Rowe❤
Rhonda Rowe
Friend
May 18, 2021
Wow! I couldn't believe what I read this morning. Talk about memories. I was part of the crew who hung at the 880 Club, friends with Don and was his health insurance agent. My sympathies to his family and friends. Those were some of the best times of my life and I will never forget them. Though I live in Florida now, I will never forget Hartford, the clubs, the friends, and some were pretty unique. We really have lost a Hartford legend. God bless his soul. But I am sure he will still be entertaining those in Heaven. Miss you brother.
Robert Fortier
Friend
May 18, 2021
Don, we became friends 56 years ago when Billy Durso introduced you and Bob to me. I worked at Dunkin’ Donuts in East Hartford where you visited frequently. Our friendship expanded over the years and it was a delight to know you and be part of your music. I will truly miss you and the musical opportunities you shared with all of us.
Goodbye for now dear friend. Linda
Linda Jacques
Friend
May 18, 2021
Ray, Rhonda and family. I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. My Deepest Sympathies.
Patricia Bartone (Callahan)
Friend
May 18, 2021
I remember listening to Don and his brother, Bob, play trumpet and saxophone with US 69 and The Mustard Family in clubs in Hartford in the early 70s. These guys were pros and loved playing. Their music was original and memorable and the audience was never disappointed. I remember Don as a sweet, talkative guy with a good sense of humor who got along with everybody. Musicians like Don made those days special, even magical. It saddens me to read of his passing. Sincere condolences to his family.
Henry C Winiarski Jr
May 18, 2021
A great high school friend and introduced me to music outside what was popular on the radio. Many a days skipping school were spent at his family's house on Well's Road. A treasured man to be sure.
Jim Stavola
May 18, 2021
"What a Great Guy. Always greeting you with a smile. 'A Great - One'. I never forgot the 'US - 69' LP. Wish I still had it. God Bless Him" ...
Johnny Cusano
John Cusano
Friend
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