A WVOX and WVIP Commentar by William O’Shaughnessy (broadcast June 27, 2011)
It was right there in the Journal News daily newspaper and on Bob Marrone’s lips that Peter Mustich of New Rochelle, N.Y. had died. The key phrase being “of New Rochelle.”
That said it all about the man. All other details of his life and passing are meaningless and irrelevant. For this Mustich was a townie and any achievements, accomplishments and milestones of his 88 years must yield to his relationship with his home heath.
Peter Mustich was “of New Rochelle” in every season of his long life. But the venue of his days is not to be confused with the New Rochelle of E.L. Doctorow, Cynthia Ozick, Teresa Brewer, Ossie Davis, Robert Merrill, Page Morton Black, Frances Sternhagen, John Kluge, Mariano Rivera, Dick Van Dyke or Ken Chenault, boss of American Express. We’re not talking here about Overlook Road or Premium Point either. Or about the Joyces or the Powers family.
Nor would you put him in Scarsdale, Bronxville, Bedford or Rye. 10801 and 10804 were the zip codes where he got up each morning. And among his enthusiasms were the Chamber of Commerce, the Elks Club, the Lions, Holy Name Church, the Police Foundation and this local community radio station where he would appear in our lobby almost weekly with some importuning or pleading.
Peter Mustich was a Catholic but he carried instincts taught by the ancient Hebrews. He probably didn’t even know the words Tzedakah or Tikun Olam. But it came most naturally to him as he set about to build up the community, to make it stronger, better … sweeter. He didn’t need some old Rabbi to tell him “God created the universe, but didn’t complete it … that’s your job.” It was in him, a part of the man.
It seemed like he was around these parts forever. But Mustich did not go back as far as Lou Gehrig, Norman Rockwell, Frankie Frisch or Eddie Foy and the Seven Little Foys, New Rochelle residents of fable and myth.
But he could absolutely tell you all about Teddy Greene, Alvin Ruskin, Alex Norton, Sam Kissinger, Hughie Doyle, Bob Cammann, Jack Kornsweet, Murray Fuerst, John Fosina, Darby Ruane, Sid Mudd, Jim Bishop, Jack Driscoll, Jack Dowling, Marty Traugott – the handsome plumber, Dominick Procopio, Frank Connelly, Bill Scollon, Art Geoghegan, Bill Sullivan, Amiel Wohl, Ben Mermelstein, Vinny Rippa, Ruth Kitchen, Lenny Paduano, Frank Garito, Arnie Klugman, I.B. Cohen, the Libretts, Harry & Bob Colwell, Dorothy Ann Kelly, Jim Maisano, Ogden Reid, Tommy O’Toole, George Vergara, Tim Idoni, Nick DeJulio, Rosemary McLaughlin, Evie Haas, Doc Kiernan, Rocco Bellantoni, Jr., Joe Evans, Nick Donofrio, Stanley W. Church, Elmer Miller, Donny Zack, Mike Armiento and P.J. O’Neil, keeper of the most glorious saloon. And, on information and belief, he even spent some time in Cesario’s of an evening.
He was a joiner, a volunteer, a promoter, a drumbeater, a promulgator and he always seemed to be coming up the street at the head of a parade. You will find none of these things in the New York papers.
But over this most glorious summer weekend just past, a Father Martin J. Biglin stood up in the Holy Name of Jesus Church to pray over Peter Mustich. Now this Biglin is a most rare and highly unusual person who, when he puts on his Roman collar, is actually able to speak in entire graceful sentences and elegant paragraphs of the English language almost as well as most other priests of the Roman church recite the ancient Latin.
“He always did unto the least of these …” said the white-haired priest. And after quoting the Carpenter’s Son, who was altogether so perfect, he flung holy water on the casket of Peter Mustich who spent 88 years saying nice things about his neighbors, most of them obscure sidemen in orchestras long disbursed. But to Peter Mustich they were all A-listers.
OBITUARY: Peter L. Mustich (1922 – 2011)
Peter L. Mustich, 88, of New Rochelle passed away on June 21, 2011 at his residence. Peter was born in the Bronx on August 19, 1922 to Joseph and Angelina Serilli Mustich. Mr. Mustich served his country honorably in the U.S. Army in the South Pacific. On October 2, 1948 Peter married the love of his life, Concetta Senna. Peter was employed by the Federal Government working with NASA where he retired in 1973 after 35 years. His last project was the first Luna Module, which was responsible for the first manned moon mission. Mr. Mustich was very active with the New Rochelle Lions and Elks Clubs, The New Rochelle Police Foundation, and the New Rochelle Chamber of Commerce. In addition to his wife Concetta, Peter is survived by his daughter Deborah Mustich and son Peter (Patricia ) Mustich. Peter is survived by his brothers, Joseph, James, Anthony and Angelo and his sisters Anna and Celeste. He is pre-deceased by his sister Louise and brother Louis. Also surviving are Peter’s grandchildren, Jonathan, Matthew (Jonelle ) and Peter. Visiting will be Friday, 2-4 & 7 -9pm at George T. Davis Funeral Home. A Mass of Christian Burial will be Saturday, 9:30am at Holy Name of Jesus Church. Interment will follow at Greenwood Union Cemetery, Rye, NY. In Lieu of flowers, donations in Peters name can be made to the American Heart Association of your choice.