Pat DeRosa, Celebrated Saxophonist, Dies at 101 - 27 East

Pat DeRosa, Celebrated Saxophonist, Dies at 101

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Pat DeRosa with his daughter, Patricia DeRosa Padden, and his granddaughter, Nicole DeRosa Padden, performing together.

Pat DeRosa with his daughter, Patricia DeRosa Padden, and his granddaughter, Nicole DeRosa Padden, performing together.

Pat DeRosa and his wife, Constance DeRosa.

Pat DeRosa and his wife, Constance DeRosa.

Pat DeRosa was a music teacher for many years.

Pat DeRosa was a music teacher for many years.

Pat DeRosa playing the saxophone at his 100th birthday.

Pat DeRosa playing the saxophone at his 100th birthday.

Pat DeRosa

Pat DeRosa

Pat DeRosa

Pat DeRosa

authorCailin Riley on Apr 12, 2023

Pat DeRosa, a Montauk resident who became well-known throughout the community for his commitment to playing the saxophone throughout his 90s and even at his 100th birthday party, died on March 30. He was 101.

DeRosa, who celebrated his 101st birthday on December 6, had a lifelong love affair with the sax and continued to play with various local musicians well into his 90s and beyond. He played his last gig on October 12, 2022, when friends got together in Patchogue to celebrate his birthday a few months early.

Playing the saxophone “kept him going,” said DeRosa’s daughter, Patricia DeRosa Padden, who cared for her father in her Montauk home for the last several years. Padden said she believed her father’s love of the saxophone was what helped him overcome the grief of losing his wife, Constance DeRosa, who died in 2009. They were married for more than 50 years.

“I think that music just kept him going throughout that time she was gone,” she said. “They were very much in love and were married a long time. He really had a wonderful, wonderful life.”

DeRosa’s musical resume — particularly when it comes to the saxophone — is impressive. He was both a performer and educator, and was sought out by some of the top musicians of his time. He jammed alongside greats like John Coltrane and went on tour with Tommy Tucker’s band in Hollywood in the 1940s.

DeRosa started playing the sax when he was 12 years old. After a few years of taking music lessons, his mother took him to the Bowery in Manhattan and bought him his first saxophone.

It was a lifelong commitment, and in July 2021, DeRosa learned he had been approved to enter the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest professional saxophone player.

While raising a family in South Huntington with his wife, DeRosa taught music in the South Huntington School District for 27 years before retiring in 1978, and was beloved by his students. He used the G.I. Bill to earn his master’s degree in oboe and English horn.

In the 1980s, when DeRosa began splitting his time between Fort Lauderdale and Montauk, he was part of a big band, playing lead saxophone, with Jim Chapin as the drummer. They would play to crowds at Montauk Downs and other local venues. In more recent years, DeRosa was part of a trio with his daughter and granddaughter, Nicole DeRosa Padden.

DeRosa sadly did not achieve what had been a “bucket list” wish — getting to play the saxophone alongside Billy Joel — but the way he was embraced and beloved by local musicians in and around Montauk, evidenced by the tributes that his daughter has seen pouring in over social media, has been gratifying for the family. “The audience loved him and he loved the audience,” she said.

A special video tribute to DeRosa is being planned for the Montauk Music Festival, set for May 18 to 21.

DeRosa is survived by his daughter, Patricia; his son, William DeRosa of East Islip; his sisters, Dolores Rocco and Rosalind Johnson; and six grandchildren, Nicole DeRosa Padden, Krista Schulman, William DeRosa Jr., Jayden Kraft, Tracy Kraft, and Jacqueline DeRosa. He was predeceased by his brother, Clement DeRosa.

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