Frank Chiarello Jr., 89, former conductor of the Army and Marine Corps bands

Frank Chiarello Jr.

WILMINGTON — After a long battle with Parkinson’s disease, Frank Chiarello Jr., 89, passed away Monday, Dec. 7, 2020.

He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Frank Sr. and Octavia Chiarello. Frank had three children, Frank F. Chiarello III, Dr. Mario Chiarello and Paul Chiarello.

Frank was a Boy Scout and earned the rank of Eagle Scout. He especially liked the traits of being loyal, trustworthy, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave and reverent. He became a man of very strong character.

While in high school, Frank excelled in track and pole vaulting. At age 14, he picked up a trumpet and began his lifelong career in music. After joining the U.S. Marine Corps in 1951, Frank became a trumpet player for 10 years in the Marine Band at Cherry Point. After 10 years of playing the trumpet with the Marine Corps, he attended the Berklee School of Music in Boston to further his music education. He often kidded that he also went to MIT, but he actually helped dig the foundation for a new building at MIT.

Upon graduating from Berklee, the U.S. Army wanted him to join the U.S. Army Band, and he agreed to join them after they agreed to count his 10 years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps. Frank then became a conductor of the U.S. Army Band. He spent time at Fort Hood, Fort Lee and Washington, D.C.

During his career, he conducted not only the U.S. Army Band, but also the Army Blues Jazz Band (which he founded), the Strolling Strings and the Herald Trumpets, which are played at official functions. Frank was also selected to go to Vietnam with General Westmoreland to help build the morale of the troops. Unfortunately, that is where he acquired Agent Orange.

In the late 1980’s, Frank returned to his Marine Corps buddies in North Carolina. There, he taught trumpet lessons to students who were serious about becoming better musicians. He would not waste time with them if they were not serious students. Frank was also a trumpet player in several bands in the New Bern, Morehead City and Wilmington area. He was first chair until Parkinson’s disease finally robbed him of that talent.

Frank was firm, yet gentle and fair, and loved his friends, and especially his family, passionately. If you ever needed a favor, Frank was right there to help. Everyone loved Frank!

Frank and Virginia loved to travel. They visited places in Europe and Hawaii, and his favorite places were in Italy and Greece. Frank was very proud of his Italian heritage, and was a member of the Sons of Italy and the Italian Heritage society. There, he met many friends. They went to lunch every Friday, and called themselves the ROMEOS (Retired Old Men Eating Out) and later the Knuckleheads. He loved everyone in those groups.

Frank had a way with children, and especially his grandchildren. When the babies could not be consoled by anyone else, he would hold the baby in one arm and play the keyboard with the other, and they would soon be asleep.
Frank’s family would like to thank his many doctors and nurses who have cared for him diligently through his long journey. They would also like to thank the staff at The Commons at Brightmore for his excellent care in the last year and a half, as well as the caretakers of Liberty Hospice. You are all the best!

Frank is survived by his devoted wife, Virginia Williford Chiarello; sons, Frank F. Chiarello III (Mia), Dr. F. Mario Chiarello (Karla) and Paul Chiarello (Laurie); sister, Rosalind Hutchinson (Eddie); grandchildren, Reynaldo Chiarello, Dominic Chiarello, Rose Kuhl, Angelo Chiarello, Josephine Chiarello, Vanessa Boston, Zane Fickin, Morgan Parker, Cullin Parker and Claire Parker; great-grandchildren, Violet, Everest, Clover, Ryder and Aria; stepsons, Jerry D. Parker Jr. (Karen), Fletcher Kent Parker, David Brent Parker (Cindy) and Corey Alan Parker; sister-in-law, Mary Linda Williams, Alva Davis (Art), Doris Tyndall (James), and Betty Williford (late John). He was preceded in death by his parents, Frank Sr. and Octavia Chiarello; and sister, Josephine McGovern.

A celebration of life service will be held at 2:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 12, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Services will private due to COVID-19 restrictions. Burial will be held in Arlington National Cemetery in spring 2021 with full military honors.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Frank’s honor may be made to the Boys Choir of Wilmington, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 16 N. 16th St., Wilmington, NC 28401.

Share online condolences with the family at Andrews Mortuary & Crematory.

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