Valentino C. Rocco, 96, of Beaver, passed away on Friday, April 13, 2018 at Good Samaritan Hospice, Heritage Valley, Beaver. He was an accomplished musician and educator, well-known throughout the Beaver Valley.
He is survived by Emma (Scogna) Rocco of Beaver, his loving of wife of 66 years; sons Michael S. of Beaver, Samuel A. of Bellefonte, and Robert P. of Winston Salem, NC; his cherished granddaughters Kristen (Scott) Stablein of Pittsburgh and Erin (Nicholas) Thompson of Frederick, MD; his sisters Theresa DeLoia of Dubois, Rose Venditti, Edith Pacella, Genevieve Grant, Martha Boschini, all of Ellwood City, Elvira Masters of Mount Jackson, brothers Nicholas and Anthony (Josephine) of Ellwood City; and numerous nieces and nephews. Val was predeceased by his parents, Salvatore and Elizabeth Arena Rocco, and his brother Carlo Rocco.
A veteran of the armed forces, Val was drafted in 1942 to play clarinet and saxophone in the Army Band. He served in World War II with the 12th Armored Division in Germany under George S. Patton. His Honorable Discharge in 1946 was accompanied by several awards and citations, including a Good Conduct Medal, a Meritorious Unit Award, an American Theater Service Medal, the EAME Service Medal with two Bronze stars, as well as a Victory Medal. In 2015 he paid tribute to his former division when he composed the “12th Armored Division March”. A recording of his composition has found a home in the 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum in Abilene, TX.
He enrolled at Duquesne University under the GI Bill in 1946 to pursue a degree in Music Education. The first class he attended was a history of music class instructed by Assistant Professor Emma C. Scogna. In 1952, Val and Emma were married at St. John the Baptist Church in Monaca.
Val’s career as a teacher began in 1950 when he was hired by the Big Beaver Falls Area School District as the Junior High band director. He completed his Master of Science in Music Education in 1955, and in 1958 assumed leadership of the High School band where he would remain until the spring of 1967. There he took pride in creating and choreographing a new and different halftime show for the fighting Tigers each and every week. At his final concert that year he was presented with an award commemorating his achievements as a music educator by his friend and former Duquesne classmate Michael Ferraro, director of bands at New Castle High School. Following his tenure as band director, Val continued his service to the district as a guidance counselor at the Junior High school. Outside the classroom he performed regularly with local dance bands as well as ensembles such as the Monaca Cornet Band, the San Rocco Festival Band, and the Beaver County Symphonic Wind Ensemble. For 12 years he served as director of the Ellwood City Community Band, for which he was honored with an award of special merit by Russell Dennis (Denny) Schill, Executive Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce of Ellwood City. Val served as orchestra director for many musicals throughout the Beaver Valley area and organized and directed a Jazz Band at Penn State, Beaver Campus. In addition, he served as director of the choir at the former Christ the Divine Teacher Catholic Church in Beaver Falls and directed and sang in the choir at St. John the Baptist Church in Monaca.
While his training and career were centered around concert and dance band repertoire, his love of music was rooted in the classical works of Wolfgang Mozart, Johann Strauss, and the 3rd, 6th, and 9th Symphonies of Beethoven.
Val’s abundant love for his church, his country, his Italian heritage and to his devoted wife and family was apparent each and every day of his life.
Visitation will be held at Simpson Funeral & Cremation Services, 1119 Washington Avenue, Monaca, on Tuesday, April 17 from 2:00 until 4:00 pm, and from 6:00 until 9:00 pm where Prayers will be offered on Wednesday, April 18 at 9:30 am. Father Michael Ruffalo will preside at a Mass of Celebration at 10:00 am in St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Monaca. Entombment will follow with full military honors by the Beaver County Special Unit at 11:15 am at Beaver Cemetery Mausoleum, Beaver.
The Family suggests that memorial contributions may be made in his memory to either St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 1409 Pennsylvania Avenue, Monaca, PA 15061 or a charity of choice.