There is a musical void in Rochester
this Holiday Season.
We are missing the voice, the violin, the wonderful smile, and glowing personality of Len Hawley.
His music was part of our community for over 75 years. At the age of 92, he was still active—and I’m told had over 40 events booked for this December.
I’ll always remember asking him to perform at my mother’s 100th Birthday Celebration- in April of last year.
“Does she have a favorite song,” he asked? “Yes,” I said, “In the Garden!”
Len replied, “I don’t know that song, but I will learn it and I will play it for your beautiful mother’s special day!” And he did just that.
In fact, I have included a “link” with this article- so you can hear his performance from that day at the Fairport Baptist Home.
I would speak with Len- on occasion- following that celebration.
Ironically, that song became his “signature piece” from that day on. It was always a hit, especially in adult care residences.
When I spoke with his family during calling hours, they told me how much he enjoyed his “new song”- and the reaction he got as people sang along.
His family reinforced what I already knew. His love of family was the key to his success.
Born of a rich Italian tradition, (he was born Joseph DiPassio) he literally embraced everyone he met. (My Italian mother-in-law was thrilled to discover his true heritage when she attended my Mom’s party)
He instilled a love of community in his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
They told me Tommy Dorsey once asked him to audition and sing with his “Big Band!”
Len declined, preferring to stay in Rochester, New York. He gave up the chance—and “some guy name Sinatra” took the stage, instead.
I will miss Len Hawley and his music this Holiday Season, but I shall always remember his love of family and community—especially-
In The Garden!