Monessen man lived a life full of passion for music |
Obituary Stories

Monessen man lived a life full of passion for music

Patrick Varine

When John Paterra of Speers was performing as a vocalist with the Graham Grubb Orchestra, he remembers chatting occasionally with the group’s bass player, Ed Dacko.

“He played trombone and later he played bass fiddle,” Paterra said. “He was a character.”

Edward Paul Dacko of Monessen died Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. He was 88.

Mr. Dacko was born June 28, 1931, a son of the late John Sr. and Susan Scrip Dacko. He graduated from Monessen High School in 1949 and earned his bachelor’s degree in music education from Duquesne University in 1953. He would go on to earn a master’s degree in 1960 in public school music.

Mr. Dacko taught music in the Bentworth and Belle Vernon school districts until his retirement in 1991. He also taught private music lessons at the former Trombino’s Music Center.

Mr. Dacko’s love of music followed him into military service as well. During World War II, Mr. Dacko joined the Army and was stationed in Germany with the First Infantry Division, where he also served as first-chair trombone.

Mr. Dacko performed with Paterra’s father Frank in the Frank Paterra Orchestra.

“He’d reminisce about my dad when he was playing at the Twin Coaches in Belle Vernon,” Paterra said. “We did a music education series interviewing guys who played at the Coaches, and Eddie was part of that.”

The Twin Coaches was similar to the Holiday House in Monroeville, in the sense that many of the major touring acts of the day passed through and performed.

“The last act before the fire in the 1950s was Sammy Davis Jr.,” Paterra said. “Everyone played there: the Supremes, Smokey Robinson, country singers. And the 11-piece house band that included Ed would back them up.”

In his free time, Mr. Dacko enjoyed the links, according to his son-in-law Eloy Ramirez of Belle Vernon.

“He loved playing golf and he went everywhere to do it,” Ramirez said. “He was a good man.”

Over the years, Mr. Dacko performed with the Graham Grubb Orchestra, Mike Borello, Frankie Barr, the Benny Benack Orchestra, and the Bobby Earl Orchestra and others at places like the former Vogue Terrace, the Horizon Room at the old Pittsburgh airport and the Twin Coaches.

Paterra said Mr. Dacko was one of a large group of talented musicians from the Monessen area.

“When the Twin Coaches really became a supper club, they knew which musicians to bring in because they grew up around them: my dad, Eddie and all of those guys,” Paterra said.

Mr. Dacko is survived by a daughter, Eloise Ondulick and her husband Eloy Ramirez, of Belle Vernon.

Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Robert Billick Funeral Home, Grand Boulevard and Marion Avenue in Monessen.

A 1 p.m. funeral will be held Thursday at St. John the Divine Russian Orthodox Church, 42 McKee Ave., Monessen, with interment to follow in Grandview Cemetery.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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