MARI--Daniel Lello, 93, died on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2020, in his New York City home after a long illness. Mr. Mari was known to many top musicians over the years for his Mari Strings, originally made of gut and used over the decades by Sabicas, Mario Escudero, John Lennon, Leo Fender, Les Paul, Jimi Hendrix, and more recently Bjorn Englen and many others. His strings were prized by those who played classical and flamenco guitars, lutes and ukuleles, and also bass, violins and violas. Mr. Mari's life had started in Rome, Italy. Born May 11, 1927 to Olinto and Laura Sirolli Mari, his secondary schooling was interrupted by World War II. Mussolini enlisted him, along with most young boys in Italy, in support of the Fascist Movement. He was taught how to fight and was eventually caught by the Germans. Mr. Mari was savvy enough to toss his weapon before being captured. Some of his friends were not so fortunate; Mr. Mari witnessed their executions by the German captors. Mr. Mari instead was thrown into the ditches and told to dig. After many days the German officer looked at him and said "Go home to your mother, little boy." A miracle? Mr. Mari said "thank you" and ran. After the war, Mr. Mari was sent to America in 1946, knowing little English. His father and uncle were already in New York. They had started a business, E & O Mari, which manufactured musical strings. Daniel enrolled in a program at Columbia University to learn 10,000 English words. After learning 10,000 words, he studied at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. But being 19 years of age, Daniel was much older and more experienced than the other boys; he transferred to The Harley School, a progressive boarding school located in Rochester, New York, and graduated in 1948. After being accepted at various universities, Daniel chose Rochester University, and graduated in 1952 with a B.A. Upon graduation, the Korean War was in full force. The US Army drafted Mr. Mari immediately and he served stateside; his training with Mussolini gave him the background for an assignment teaching new cadets at West Point. In the late 1950s Mr. Mari made his way to Provincetown, Masschusetts, where he was befriended by many of the leading abstract artists of the day, including Kline, Rothko, Hoffmann, Pollock, and Motherwell; Mr. Mari was an early collector of their art. He accompanied Jimi Hendrix to the Woodstock festival in 1969. In 1976, some time after his father and uncle passed away, Mr. Mari started his own string manufacturing company, Mari Strings, Inc. It continues to supply strings to discerning musicians around the world. Musicians and art collectors were in touch with Mr. Mari during his long illness, sharing anecdotes and checking in on him. His taste in music was eclectic, ranging from rock and roll to opera; he was for many years a loyal member of the Metropolitan Opera Club of New York. Mr. Mari's first marriage, to Elizabeth Cater, ended in divorce. She and their son Nicholas predeceased Mr. Mari. He is survived by his wife of over forty years, MaryLou, their daughter Laura, and his daughter from his first marriage, Melissa Mari Havercroft (Norman Havercroft) and two grandchildren, William and Chloe. A private funeral service was held. A celebration of Mr. Mari's life will be held later in 2021 when the pandemic conditions permit. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to the Visiting Nurse Service of New York.
Published in New York Times on Jan. 1, 2021.