Phil Antonucci lived his dream. At age 11, he started performing in a band, and music would become the thread woven into the fabric of his life, from earning a living to using it to convey his feelings about other loves -- his wife and children.
"He was an amazing and talented entertainer," said Dee Charletta Antonucci, his wife of 24 years. The couple started dating in 1983 while both worked at a catering hall in Smithtown, he as a member of the house band, she as a hostess. Two months into dating, he wrote her a melody, "Found it in You," which became the couple's wedding song.
"He was my best friend and an equally amazing father," she said.
Antonucci, 59, died of prostate cancer Aug. 27 at Hospice House in East Northport, surrounded by family.
A freelance audio engineer for broadcast TV, Antonucci was a talented guitarist who played in bands throughout his life, most recently in a Chicago tribute band.
While music was his first focus, his daughters, Corina, 18, and Alexa, 16, caused a shift in the hierarchy. He was a dedicated father, his wife said, and was well-known for volunteering with the Huntington High School Marching Band, in which his daughters were members.
"He loved being a part of his children's life, working with the band and sharing that with them," Dee Antonucci said. "He loved his girls so much, and it was evident in everything he did. Everything was for them."
Kevin Chorusey, a friend from high school at Holy Trinity in Hicksville, said Phil Antonucci had the persona and charisma of a mayor, storytelling talent of a sage, and the character to remain true to himself.
"He never had a 9-to-5 job, but he had the ability to turn his love of music and his very keen ear into a lucrative career to support his family," Chorusey said. "His loss casts a big shadow, and we all feel a tremendous loss at his passing."
Friends plan to hold a fundraiser Sept. 12 at the Huntington Elks club to benefit the family. In addition to his wife and daughters, he is survived by a sister, JoAnne of Hicksville. A funeral Mass was celebrated Aug. 31 at the Church of St. Patrick in Huntington. Cremation followed.