Tributes for Two New York Tuba Legends
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Part II: Don Butterfield
And The Memory Lingers On
by Alice Butterfield
There is a tragedy to this heartwarming story. A few months after this picture was taken, Don Butterfield succumbed to a stroke. It was a very important and exciting day in Don’s life. It was his first concert with his 10-year old granddaughter, Nora Nalepka, of Bloomfield, New Jersey. Don and Larry Zaidan were the conductors for the Rockland Community Band at Christmas at the Helen Hayes Rehabilitation Center in New York.
Nora’s father, Brian, also a tuba player, presented her with a tuba in 5th grade, which she immediately fell in love with, which tuba players can relate to. Shortly afterwards, Don began teaching her. She reminisces about the two-hour lessons and how Don took her under his wing, reviewing the melody she was to solo in her upcoming school concert. She currently plays tuba in the middle school band in Bloomfield.
At a glimpse of Don’s face one can see how ecstatic and proud he was to have her appear with him in the band. Nora is honored to follow in her famous grandfather’s footsteps and was his youngest student. She hopes that she will acquire some of his magnificent playing. The irony of the story is another famous tuba player was present in memory as well. The 7 1/2-foot tuba, which Nora played, was featured in the “Band of America” and is known as Big Joe the Tuba, once owned and played by the legendary Joe Tarto.
Don Butterfield with his granddaughter Nora Nalepka