1926 - 2020
Dominic ‘Mickey' Simonetta, 93, resident of Forest Park, Illinois for 60 years, passed away on April 24th, 2020. Beloved husband of Evelyn (nee Waters) for 54 years; loving father of Anthony (Nicki), Johnny, and Mariann (Chris) Beach; caring brother-in-law to Jean; devoted ‘Papa' to Richard (Lauren), Dominic (Brittany), Katie Beach, Cristiano, and Kelly Beach; proud great-grandfather to Viviana; fond uncle, cousin, and friend to everyone he met.
He was predeceased by his parents, Anthony and Caterina (nee Rondinella), his brother John ‘Bobby,' John Ginino, his sisters-in-law Maye Henry and Faye Carter, and Maria (nee Vaiti).
A strong man of faith and Chicago sports enthusiast with a remarkable sense of humor, Mickey was best known as a jazz drummer, percussionist, and educator.
Mickey expressed his love for his home in Forest Park, saying he would "not want to live anywhere else." He possessed a deep, devoted love for his family with concern and compassion for others. Those close to him will remember him for his sharp wardrobe, countless jokes and one-liners, along with that prominent smile.
Born an Italian American in Chicago in 1926, Mickey's interest in music originated after listening to jazz great Benny Goodman and was influenced by Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich and Frank Sinatra. During World War II, he played with the 130th Army Ground Force Band.
Later, he went on to study percussion instruments and harmony at the Midwestern Conservatory of Music. In 1955, Mickey toured Europe for five weeks with the Bill Russo Band. He received the Certificate of Esteem from the United States Department of Defense for volunteering his services.
Mickey began playing hotels, nightclubs and lounges while enrolled in the Music Education program at DePaul University. He recorded and played at the Blue Note with Lennie Tristano and worked with Earl Garner at the London House. For three years, Mickey disc jockeyed a jazz show for patients at Hines VA Hospital.
He played alongside jazz legends Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, and vocalist Andy Williams. Mickey also backed such comedic legends as Joey Bishop, Don Rickles, Bob Newhart, Buddy Hackett, and Jack E. Leonard at the Black Orchid Nightclub.
At Mr. Kelly's, Mickey recorded with prominent jazz vocalists such as Billie Holiday, June Christy, Anita O'Day, and Jeri Southern. In addition to playing on studio recordings and his original compositions, Mickey was named a top drummer in DownBeat magazine. He was also listed in the Encyclopedia of Jazz.
Due to his extensive knowledge in music education, Mickey started teaching for the Chicago Public Schools in 1960 after graduating from DePaul. He began his teaching career as a band director at Marshall High School before moving on to Steinmetz High School.
Mickey would finish his teaching tenure after 18 years at Lake View High School where he served as an inspiration for many music students. Throughout his time there, he amassed numerous Superior Ratings and All-Conference City Championship Awards. In 1987, he was recognized as the "Employee of the Year" at Lake View.
Throughout his career, he also taught countless local students and maintained a studio at Lyon & Healy. After retiring, Mickey was a substitute teacher at Morton East and Morton West high schools. At the age of 93, he continued to conduct private music lessons.
One of Mickey's favorite sayings was:
"It's nice to be important, but it's important to be nice."
A private burial is scheduled with a celebration of life at a date to be determined.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to Marshall and/or Lake View High School's music programs, your local school music program and/or your local PADS shelter.
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