Julius "Julie" Rubinstein, conductor and music arranger for the Golden Tone Orchestra, died at Franklin Hospital in Valley Stream last Monday after suffering acute renal failure, his family said. He was 89.
Rubinstein, a longtime Oceanside resident, began playing clarinet and saxophone as a teenager. He took lessons to learn the instruments and also enjoyed playing with other musicians, his family said.
"He started to play when he was 14 years old and it just captivated him," said daughter Ann Rubinstein of Manchester, N.H.
Born Oct. 2, 1923, in Manhattan, Rubinstein grew up in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. He graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School, his family said. Throughout high school and afterward, Rubinstein played with various bands in the Catskills at events including weddings and dances, according to biographical information he gave to the Golden Tone Orchestra. He joined the Army in 1943 as a rifleman in the 100th Infantry Division and served in France and Germany during World War II. He was discharged in 1945 and received two Purple Hearts, his family said.
Upon returning, Rubinstein played at a jazz club on 52nd Street in Manhattan. He also continued playing in the Catskills, his biography said. It was there, in upstate New York, that Rubinstein met his wife, then Selma Roslafsky, who was waitressing. The two married in 1948 and moved to Crown Heights, Brooklyn, his family said.
A few years later, the couple moved to Far Rockaway, where Rubinstein and his brother bought a hardware store that they ran for 32 years, his family said. Though the hardware store was successful, it wasn't Rubinstein's passion, and he continued to play music at home and at family events.
"He was very devoted to his family and having us have a good life and I think the hardware store did that," Ann Rubinstein said Sunday. "But music was always his first love. Always."
Rubinstein and his family moved to Oceanside in the late 1950s, his family said. He retired from the store in 1981, and in 1983 found his way to the Golden Tone Orchestra, a volunteer orchestra that rehearses in Lido Beach and is composed of senior citizens. He eventually began writing and composing the opening and closing music for each of the orchestra's 18 instruments, said Sid Hausen of Merrick, manager for the group.
"It was absolutely beautiful," Hausen said. "He was a very talented musician."
In 2012, Rubinstein and his wife moved to an assisted living facility in North Lynbrook, his family said.
Rubenstein often joked that the only way to leave the band was to move to Florida or die, Hausen said. However, due to his declining health, Rubinstein retired from leading the orchestra in early 2012.
"I refused to allow him to retire so I called him the band leader emeritus," Hausen said. "I wouldn't let him quit."
In addition to his daughter and wife, Rubinstein is survived by daughter Heidi Rubinstein, of Flushing, Queens.