James G. Sabatella, 87, of Hazle Twp., passed away peacefully Saturday, October 16, 2021, at Lehigh Valley Hospital, Hazleton, surrounded by his loving family.
Born in Hazleton on May 10, 1934, James was the son of the late Adam and Angeline (Longo) Sabatella and lived most of his life in Kelayres.
He was married to the love of his life, the former Joan Petruncio, for over 63 years on this past August 2nd.
James greatest joy was being with his family. He was a kind, caring and a friendly man who could always make anyone smile. He loved his family and enjoyed life.
James attended Kelayres Elem. School. He graduated from Hazleton High School, class of 1952, and then attended West Chester University. He was a trumpet player in the band at both schools.
On January 14, 1955, he enlisted in the U.S. Army after basic training at Fort Dix, NJ, he was sent to Fort Benjamin Harrison where he graduated from the Court Stenographer program. He was transferred to Fort Knox Kentucky in July 1955, where he was assigned to the Engineer Battalion and became a Colonel’s aide.
While at Fort Knox in October 1955, he auditioned and became a member of the Third Armored Division Band as a Cornetist. When he was stationed in Kentucky, he had the honor of playing the Revelry at the start of the Kentucky Derby representing the U.S. Army.
In 1956, the band along with the rest of the Division was transferred to Germany. While in Germany, the band, along with two German movie stars, toured many of the German cities playing the theme music of the movie the two celebrities were starring in. The Third Armored Division Band also played for many of the military events such as Heads of State appearances, parades, concerts and command performances. The band also performed in the cities of Netherlands and Luxemburg.
After being honorably discharged from the US Army, he married his wife Joan in 1958, and a few years later they started their family.
James started learning trumpet at the age of eight and continued playing up until a few months ago. For many years he also privately tutored many young individuals on trumpet, while at West Chester Univ. and in the McAdoo-Hazleton area, who then went on to master and perform on trumpet.
He later became a trumpet player in numerous bands across the region, including Mother of Grace Band, St. Ann’s Band of Freeland, Hazleton Liberty Band, Mahanoy City Legion Band, Cressona Band, Coaldale Victory Band, Pittston Band, Allentown Band, Berwick Colonial Band, Maria Assunta Band, Danny Ritz and the Plaids and Sammy Ritz and the Hits.
In the early 1970’s, James formed his own band The Gringo Brass and performed at many weddings, church picnics, country clubs, and other events throughout the region. In 1994, he performed with the Shenandoah AMVETS Band at the Miners Convention in Florida. In 1996, he played with the Coaldale Victory Band at the United Steelworkers Convention in Atlantic City and in 1998 in Denver, CO, for the Miners Convention with the St. Ann’s Band from Freeland. He has been the Vets bugler and member of the VFW Post 6708 from 1948 till present, playing Taps for thousands of funerals for veterans and family members, along with memorial and patriotic events and parades; sometimes marching in three or more parades a day. He was also a past McAdoo VFW Post Commander and VFW Trustee and served twice as the McAdoo Memorial Parade Grand Marshal.
For the past 20 years, James played Taps for the Hazleton Firefighters September 11th Memorial Mass, as well as other firefighter events.
James was a founding member of the Hazleton-McAdoo Pool League, where for many years his team won the League championship. He was also a past member of the Freeland Pool League, Keystone Vol. Fire Co., McAdoo, Hazleton Elks, Mountain City Lions Club and Tresckow Fire Co.
James enjoyed golfing and playing in various leagues and tournaments for many years, and most recently playing in the Sand Springs Golf League. Throughout the years, he was in bowling and dart leagues.
Besides his love of the trumpet, pool and golf, James was an avid Penn State football fan, attending all home football games and some championship games with his son James A.
He also played Santa Clause for many Christmas events at Boyers IGA, McAdoo.
James was a retired Letter Carrier with the U.S. Postal Service, McAdoo. Most recently he was employed at Sand Springs working on the golf course and Eagle Rock Resort as a Ski Lift attendant.
He will be greatly missed by his cherished wife and family. Surviving in addition to his wife, Joan, are his precious children, daughters Corinne Sabatella, Hazle Twp.; Renee Forte and husband Richard, Hazleton; and son James A. Sabatella, Hazle Twp.; beloved grandchildren Adrianna Scarlett Forte and fiancé Nathan Bastanzi, Tamaqua and Dimitri Rhett Forte, Hazleton; and his two little friends, dogs Ella and Snowball; along with many cousins and numerous friends.
His funeral will be held Friday at 9:30 a.m. from the Damiano Funeral Home, Inc., McAdoo. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. in Holy Rosary Church, Hazleton. Interment will follow in Immaculate Conception Cemetery, McAdoo.
Calling hours will be held Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. in the funeral home.
Condolences may be entered and information is available at www.damianofhinc.com.
The family would like to thank all of the kind nurses, especially Bambi, and Dr. Nester Rives Perez, MD, on the 7th floor of Lehigh Valley Hospital, Hazleton; the visiting home nurses and therapists of Commonwealth Home Health of Berwick; and especially Rev. Brian J.W. Clarke and Deacon Vincent Oberto of Holy Rosary Church and Rev. Michael J. Kloton of Good Shepard Parish for their compassion and spiritual prayers and guidance during this time.
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