June LeBell, M&A '61
June LeBell (M&A ’61), a professional concert soprano who became one of the first women to be hired as a staff announcer and interviewer in the male-dominated realm of commercial classical music radio broadcasting, died on Sunday, April 30, 2017 in Sarasota, Fla. She was 73.
There will be a service in Sarasota on Monday, May 8th, Church of the Palms, at 2pm, which will be streamed live on the internet at churchofthepalms.org A Memorial Service in New York will be held on May 20th sat 3pm at Marble Collegiate Church (1 W. 29th St, New York, NY 10001)
The Music and Art Class of 1961, Alumni & Friends of LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts along with the greater community of musicians, artists, friends and fans of June LeBell can keep her memory alive by contributing online to the June LeBell Memorial Vocal Music Fund or by check to Alumni & Friends of LaGuardia HS (100 Amsterdam Ave. Rm. 853, NY, NY 10023). Please specify June LeBell Vocal Music Award Fund in the check’s memo line.
June Wendie LeBell was born on April 29, 1944, in Manhattan to Irving LeBell, a pediatrician, and the former Harriet Adler, a painter. She graduated from the High School of Music and Art (now Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts) and the Mannes College of Music in New York and attended the Hartt College of Music (now the Hartt School of the University of Hartford).
After performing professionally as a soprano, she was also the host of a lecture series, “The Sound of Broadway,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and compiled a book of recipes from musicians titled “Kitchen Classics From the Philharmonic: A Culinary & Musical Celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the New York Philharmonic” (1992), which was illustrated by Al Hirschfeld.
After the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, a few blocks from where she lived, she retired to Florida, where she hosted a regular public radio program and a series on music at the Sarasota Institute of Lifetime Learning. …[read more]
Barry Rein, M&A '56
Juris Mednis, M&A '56
It is with sadness that we announce the passing of Juris Mednis, M&A ’56, in March 2017.
Joan Nevins, M&A '47
Joan Nevins (M&A ’47), an artist who worked as an interior designer and teacher, died March 17, 2017 at age 87, of complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in art from Cooper Union and a bachelor’s degree in teaching from the University of Maryland. Mrs. Nevins began her career as a commercial artist, designing ads and packaging for products. She later worked as an art teacher and an interior designer, eventually running Joan Nevins Interiors in Rockville, MD. Throughout her life, she painted extensively. Her son David said, “She was an ‘early-on feminist’ who cared deeply about women’s rights and social justice issues.” Read more
Lynn Phillips, M&A '62
Lynn Phillips – fiery intellectual, committed feminist, and eclectic writer – passed away on January 5 from complications from lung cancer. Lynn wrote and edited for film, television, print, and online media over the course of several decades. She was a staff writer for the groundbreaking Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, produced by Norman Lear. She wrote for publications such as Glamour, The Harvard Lampoon, The Realist, The Nation, Nerve, The New York Times’ T Magazine, Psychology Today, and Newsweek International.
Following Music & Art, Lynn graduated from Harvard University with a BAFA in Fine Arts in 1966. Her papers and literary works are to be archived by Harvard University’s Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America. Selected recent works can be read online at www.lynnphillips.net and www.lynn-phillips.com/archive. Read more from the NYT obituary.
Jonathan Strasser, M&A '63
It is with great sadness that we share the news that Maestro Jonathan Strasser, M&A ’63 and teacher at M&A, PA, and LaGuardia passed away. You can read many beautiful tributes to him on his public facebook page,
and read his bio from the Manhattan School of Music.
The funeral service was March 10, 2017. You can view the service:
Log on to: http://webcast.dignitymemorial.com
The ID is: 14420
Password: 52SN6 (case sensitive)
It will be available to view for 90 days
Dave Valentin, M&A '70
Legendary Latin jazz musician Dave Valentin, M&A ’70, passed away on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. He was 64. Valentin passed away from complications due to a stroke and Parkinson’s disease. Valentin was born to Puerto Rican parents in the Bronx and learned percussion at an early age. He went on to play jazz flute and was mentored under Hurbert Laws. A Grammy Award winning musician, he toured the world, but always returned to the Bronx. Please read his New York Times obituary.
Here is a 2011 New York Times article about his Sunday routine.
Joyce Hope Suskind, M&A '45
We had a letter recently from Rita Greenstein, M&A ’45, regarding the passing of classmate Joyce Hope Suskind:
“With great sadness, we announce the passing of Joyce Hope Suskind and her husband, the photographer Olaf Ringdahl in February, 2017. We all knew Jinx as an outgoing and bright musician, her interests not only in music but in humankind. She was a wonderful friend and her talent was obvious even in her young years at M&A. Jinx was a talented pianist, her oboe achievements were formidable and her vocal performances were always a delight. Upon graduation from M&A in June of 1945, she attended the Juilliard School and went on to be not only a teacher of voice but also of the Alexander Method. Jinx attained fame as a composer and her compositions have been performed throughout the world. Her set pieces on poetry of Yeats has been widely acclaimed. Her presence in the world was a high mark in music; her presence in the world was a high mark in humanity.”
Maria B. Pechukas, PA '84
Maria Pechukas (PA ’84) passed away on February 1, 2017. She was the granddaughter of Anthony M. Gisolfi, who taught Italian for many years at Music & Art, and sister of Fiona Pechukas (LaG ’91, who also passed away). She was an outstanding actress, earning the Ruth Klinger Award in her graduating class of 1984 at Performing Arts. She went on to earn her MFA in the drama program at Marymount Manhattan where she again won top acting awards. Her work in drama continued, with leading roles in Wellfleet, MA summer theater WHAT (Blithe Spirit), West Side Repertory Theater in NY (School for Wives), and Baltimore theater (All My Sons).
Byron Dobell, M&A '44
Byron Dobell, an editor at Time-Life, Esquire and New York magazine who played a pivotal role in the careers of Tom Wolfe, Mario Puzo and other writers, died on Saturday at his home in Manhattan. He was 89.
Extraordinarily talented, creative and full of life. Born in the Bronx on May 30, 1927, he died at his home in Manhattan on January 21, 2017, from complications of Parkinson’s disease. He is survived by his daughter Elizabeth Dobell and his grandson Adam Dobell Wiener. A memorial will be held at a future date. Donations in his memory may be made to Alumni and Friends of LaGuardia High School (for The Byron Dobell Art Fund), 100 Amsterdam Ave., Room 853, New York, NY 10023. Read the full obituary here.