Placido Lutri, 94, a retired music teacher, department chairman and school band director in Levittown, died Wednesday of heart failure at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow.
Lutri, who lived in Hicksville, had been retired from the school district for about 30 years, said his daughter, Jean Shafiroff, of Manhattan and Southampton.
“Besides his family, music was his life,” she said.
He received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Manhattan’s Columbia Teachers College, and he attended The Juilliard School, where he studied trumpet.
“He continued to play trumpet for many years after he retired,” said his daughter. “He loved all kinds of music, classical, jazz, big band. He kept practicing trumpet. He played for fun. He played professionally. He just loved to play.”
The son of Italian immigrants, Lutri was born in Bayonne, New Jersey, where he was raised until the age of 10, when his family moved to Manhattan. He came to music early in his life, his daughter said.
“In the 1930s, he was sent to a summer camp and studied the bugle,” Shafiroff said. “The instrument, and music, stuck with him. He attended the prestigious Stuyvesant High School [in Manhattan] and was a good enough musician to be admitted to Juilliard. There, he studied under the famed musician William Vacchiano, who also taught trumpeter Miles Davis.”
Lutri went to the Levittown district in the early 1950s, she said. He taught at the Abby Lane School and Memorial High School and was later music chairman at Division Avenue High School.
“He was loved by his students and his peers,” said Shafiroff. “He very much cared about his students. He taught all of the brass instruments, and he was also an accomplished ballroom dancer.”
During World War II, Lutri was drafted into the Army. His daughter said he was going to be a gunner aboard an Army Air Force bomber but someone heard him play the trumpet.
“He was asked instead to join the Army Air Force Band. He was based in Miami, but the band traveled across the country during the war, welcoming back homecoming soldiers,” she said.
Besides his daughter, Lutri is survived by two sons, Thomas, of Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, and John, of Manhattan, and four grandchildren.
Services are 9:45 a.m. Monday at St. Ignatius Loyola Roman Catholic Church in Hicksville. Burial will follow at St. Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale.