HHS BAND’S GUERERE DIES
HAMMONTON—Anthony Guerere of Hammonton, a longtime educator and administrator at the Hammonton School District who served as the band director of Hammonton High School (HHS) from 1959 to 1987, including the highly successful HHS “Blue Devil” Marching Unit, died on December 17 at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center in Philadelphia,. Pa. Guerere was 85.
Guerere’s daughter Lynne Lucca called her father’s musical talent a “gift.”
“The music was a gift. I think he wrote his first song when he was nine years old. He didn’t realize until he went to college that it wasn’t something everyone else could do. It was part of his life. He had the option to go into a lot of different areas of life, but teaching was his love. He wanted to make an impact on his students. Every one of those students were part of his extended family. We were all so lucky to have him, and my mom was such an unsung hero, because she was with him in everything he did. Teaching music was just who he was,” his daughter Lynne Lucca said.
Throughout his life, until the end of his life, Lucca said, his love of music was something he shared with his students, friends and family.
“Even in his retirement, the music still meant so much to him. Before he went into the hospital, he said ‘I have lived the perfect life. Nobody’s been around more success than me.’ He took his gift and chose to share it. And it was a gift to so many people,” Lucca said.
Guerere’s daughter Joanne Pullia said her father loved being from Hammonton and contributing to the town.
“He was a big part of the town—it started with music, but it became more. There was so much he did for people that we’ve heard to help them get through difficult times, whether it’s students, families of students or people he knew. Hammonton is a special place, and if you’re like ‘Tono’ — we called him that—you want to help others in that special place. His mother, Minnie, was a really special person. She was so giving. He was raised that way by his parents and married into a family like my mother’s, who were the same way,” Pullia said.
Like her brother and sister, Pullia played in the band her father directed.
“I played the French horn and the mellophone. We all did whatever we could and I have so many memories. Even before I was in the band I was in the band, long before we were of age to be in the band, and we’re still close with so many of the band members and families today,” Pullia said.
She had the unique experience of having both her father and mother as teachers when she attended Hammonton High School.
“There was a time when band was first period and sewing was eighth period. I had my dad for band and my mom for sewing. There was no other option. They were the only band and sewing teachers. But they were great about it,” Pullia said.
Pullia said her father left many legacies in many different areas.
“First off, his family. We are all so close. For Halloween, my daughter Danielle dressed as him and my niece Gina dressed as RoRo—my mother. As far as family, his influence is something we’ll never forget. Charlie Birnbaum said he’s done so much for the musical community and the arts. And there have been so many families he touched, students and families of students. We continue to hear stories about how he’s changed their lives in a positive way, whether they are still involved with music or not,” Pullia said.
She said the bond between her father and her mother was a special one.
“I’m sure if he were here he would say he could not have done any of it without his wife. She was with him from beginning to end. He would say in the old days, I’m done band practice and ‘I’m bringing home five people.’ She wouldn’t blink. She’d look in the cabinet and put together a meal for them. Whatever he needed—sewing, cooking, traveling, organizing, planning—she was there. I don’t know if he would have had the same impact on lives without her,” Pullia said.
Guerere was born in Winslow Twp. He began guitar lessons at the age of 6 and piano at 8. In 1946, he became a member of Hap Branders String Band and then later in 1949 he appeared on the Steel Pier on the Tony Grant show. In 1950, he won first place among young composers in a national music competition sponsored by the American Guild. In high school, he represented Hammonton High School at Boys State, was president of the National Honor Society and Student Director of the High School Band. That year, he wrote both words and music for the class song.
He served in the National Guard from 1960 to 1968. He received his B.S. and M.A. degrees in music education from the College of New Jersey and became certified as a supervisor and principal from Rowan University.
He was the band director at Hammonton High School from 1959 to 1987, and eventually became a supervisor and administrator until his retirement in 1998. He became adjunct professor of Music at The College of New Jersey and Rowan University, where he conducted the Atlantic Brass Band. Guerere also conducted the All South Jersey Symphonic Band as well as the All State Brass Ensemble and received the Otto Helbig Conducting Award from The College of New Jersey.
He was president of the South Jersey Band and Orchestra Directors Association and the New Jersey Music Educators Association where he received the distinguished service award and honorary life membership. He received the Governor’s Award in the Arts for Distinguished Leadership in Music Education.
In 2008, Anthony was named Artist of the Year by the Arts and Cultural Committee of the Hammonton Chamber of Commerce and conducted the Ocean City Pops Orchestra in a Gala concert, according to his obituary.
“He touched so many lives and will be greatly missed,” his obituary said.
He is survived by his wife, Rose Rita (nee Errera); son, Anthony Guerere and his wife Marizel; daughters, Lynne Lucca and her husband Rusty and Joanne Pullia and her husband PJ; grandchildren, A.J. and Gina Guerere, Michelle McMaster (Charlie), Christy Lucca and Gabrielle, Danielle and Paul Pullia.
For the complete obituary, please see page 2.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Guerere’s name to the Hammonton Education Foundation for use in the Hammonton Schools Music Programs.
Arrangements entrusted to the Marinella Funeral Home.