After John Wevers became the marching band director for Copiague High School, he led the champions in New York City’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day and St. Patrick’s Day parades and they appeared in the opening scene of the 2005 movie “Lord of War,” with Nicolas Cage.
“Someone with the movie asked for the band because there was a lot of notoriety surrounding it — they were winning [championships] a lot,” Wevers’ wife, Linda, said. “He came from a very musical family.”
Wevers, a Jamesport resident who was born in Copiague and grew up in Deer Park, died Jan. 22 of kidney disease and complications from a stem cell transplant. He was 65.
A graduate of Deer Park High School and Long Island University Post and Trenton State College, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education, respectively, Wevers had a dream since high school of becoming a band director one day.
Wevers’ dream came true when he started his band career in the 1970s teaching high school groups in Westfield and South Brunswick in New Jersey. He then moved back to Long Island in 1981 when he became band director for West Babylon High School for a year.
In 1984 Wevers became the Copiague High School marching band director and led it to more than a dozen state and national band championships before his retirement in 2012.
“The Deer Park School District grade school music program was instrumental in our becoming interested in music,” Wevers’ brother, Anthony, 63, of West Babylon, said of himself and his brother and sisters. “The program encouraged our family and we all played a different instrument. He [John] played the baritone tuba and I’m a trombone player.”
Anthony Wevers said he looked up to his older brother and recalled him as “an advocate” for his siblings.
“He was an advocate for all of us,” Anthony Wevers said. “In many ways he paved the way for us in school. By the time we got there everyone knew the Wevers name.”
Anthony Wevers said the family was also well-known in the Deer Park community, where his late father, Bernard Wevers, had been a chief of the fire department — something that figured into Wevers’ early experience leading a band.
“He was in the Deer Park Fire Department Junior Band,” said Anthony Wevers, who works in corporate services for a financial company in Melville. “He was co-organizer and director of the band.”
John Wevers’ wife, Linda, 61, works for the Suffolk County Health Department and remembered her husband of 33 years as someone who never hit a sour note when it came to his temperament. She said he “never got mad” — and she had been around him since childhood.
“He was at my christening,” Wevers said. “We grew up in the same church — Faith Evangelical Free Church in Deer Park — and I was baptized the same day as one of his sisters — so he was there.”
Anthony Wevers said the church was always an important part of life for his family and in retirement his brother was working on his doctorate in Christian counseling online from Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Indiana.
One of the Wevers sisters, Barbara Welsh, 58, a teacher in Massapequa who lives in Bethpage, said the loss of her brother, John, is especially huge because he was the family historian.
Wevers also is survived by sons Douglas and John of Ontario, Canada; and another sister, Patricia Wevers-Heine of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Wevers was buried Jan. 26 in Pinelawn Memorial Park in Farmingdale.