Mauro enjoyed his life without missing a beat

March 06, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail will run "A Life Remembered." The story will take a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Vincent Mauro, who died Feb. 23 at the age of 83. His obituary appeared in the Feb. 25 editions of The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail.

Fresh out of Strayer Business College in 1949, Williamsport native Phyllis Lizer was living and working in Washington, D.C., when she met Vincent Mauro, a New Yorker and the bass drummer with the U.S. Marine Band.

"I had a job with C&P Telephone and was living in a rooming house. Vincent had a room on the top floor of the same house," Phyllis said, noting they hit it off immediately. "It seems everybody on the block knew we'd end up together but us."


Vincent and Phyllis married in 1956, beginning a 48-year journey that ended Feb. 23 with Vincent's death at the age of 83.

"There were eight years difference in our ages, but he always called me his child bride," Phyllis said.

Vincent taught himself how to play the bass drums when he was growing up in The Bronx.

"He said he played hooky from school so he could go to clubs to hear drummers Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich play," Phyllis said.

After he joined the Marines in 1943, Vincent finished his high school education.

Once Vincent completed boot camp, he joined the "President's Own" U.S. Marine Band in 1946. Over the years, he performed many times at the White House for several presidents. He also performed at inaugurations, funerals, state functions and state dinners.

"He played for Luci Johnson's wedding in 1966 and Lynda Johnson's wedding in 1967," Phyllis said. Invitations to both of those events and personal notes from both girls are treasured Mauro family keepsakes.

In 1973, Vincent might have missed former President Lyndon Johnson's funeral if it hadn't been for Phyllis.

"Vincent got called to play for the funeral just minutes after he had left the house to go downtown," Phyllis recalled. "I put on my robe and my slippers and ran two blocks to catch him just before he got on the bus."

After Vincent and Phyllis were married, they moved across the street to a house he had bought so his mother - who didn't speak English - could live with them.

"A lovely woman, she was pregnant with Vincent when she came to the United States from Italy," Phyllis said.

Vincent later bought another house in New Jersey for his mother and his sister and her family so they all could be together and closer to family and friends in New York.

Vincent and Phyllis stayed in Washington while he still was with the band and she was working both at C&P Telephone and the Woodward & Lothrop department store.

"I did go on a couple of tours with the band, but mostly I stayed at home," she said.

After Vincent retired from the band, the couple came to Washington County, where they bought a home in Robinwood in 1977 so Phyllis could be near her parents. In January, they moved for the last time, to a one-floor home more convenient for Vincent, whose health was failing.

"I remember when we first moved to Washington County. Vincent couldn't believe you had to get in the car to go anywhere," she said. "He was used to living in the city, where you could walk to everything."

Shortly after moving to Washington County, Vincent enrolled at Hagerstown Junior College and earned his associate's degree.

"He was one of the original members of the Hagerstown Junior College Jazz Band, which sadly is no more," Phyllis said.

Still committed to his music, Vincent first lent his talents to the jazz band, and then for five years with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra under former maestro Barry Tuckwell. In recent years, Vincent was active with the New Horizon Band, which is composed of musicians older than 50.

"Kids would come to the house for private lessons," Phyllis said, who said Vincent was happy to impart his love of music to family, friends and strangers.

Phyllis said Vincent marveled how people didn't appreciate what it takes to be a bass drummer.

"Vincent always told his students that bass drummers need to be able to read music and they have to practice long hours - it's a lot more than just banging a gong on a drum," she said.

Jim Johnson, who played with Vincent in the New Horizon Band, said Vincent always was eager to share his expertise in music with others.

"And he never charged for his help either," Johnson said.

Jim said that without Vincent's devotion, the New Horizon Band might never have become a reality back in 1997.

"Vincent is a legend," he said.

The Herald-Mail Articles