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Joseph L.'s Story

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Joseph L. Laorenza, 69, of Aiken, S.C., courageously battled a brain tumor and its side effects for almost two years. A battle approached with the same fervent passion as he displayed with his music his entire life. He is survived by his wife, Virginia; children, AnneMarie of New York City; and Patrick, daughter-in-law, Elizabeth and grandchildren, Jake, Justin and Patrick, all of Aiken, S.C.

Joseph touched so many people over the years as a musician and a music teacher. He spent 35 years as a band director including Director of Bands for A.L. Corbett Middle School and Wagner-Salley High School, Wagner, S.C., Band Director, Tryon High School, Tryon, N.C., Band Director, L.B.C. Middle School and Midland Valley High School, Director of Bands, Schofield Middle School and Aiken High School, and also the Director of the Gifted and Talented Education with Artistic Youth (Gateway) Program for 19 years.

Born in Lawrence, Mass., and raised in Methuen, Mass., Joseph became a professional jazz musician after graduation from Tenney Memorial High School, following in the footsteps of his heroes, Miles Davis, Monk, and Coltrane. In 1966 he joined the United States Air Force, where he worked his way up to Staff Sergeant and also worked on President Nixon’s support team. He met his wife of 47 years, Virginia, while in the service. In 1970 he was discharged and entered the University of Lowell, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education. Later, while teaching, he earned a Master’s Degree in Media Arts from the University of South Carolina. In addition to his teaching and playing as a professional jazz musician, Joseph played in the Symphony Orchestra in Augusta, Ga. Most recently he was the director for the Aiken Youth Orchestra. He also taught privately at his percussion studio.

Joseph saw his position as band director as a calling not a job. It was a way to influence future generations, their understanding of the art, and more importantly, of themselves. Being part of his students’ development was important to him. He saw a band as not only about the music, but about discipline, the ability to focus, about working with others and not letting them down, about the ability to express one’s self in an articulate way that others will understand. Everything of beauty interested him, and he was an avid photographer, capturing landscapes of his and Virginia’s trips to the beach and the mountains. He was also a longtime and ardent South Carolina Gamecock fan and followed all the Boston teams throughout his life. Joseph will be missed by his family, friends, and the students whose lives he touched and in whom he so passionately believed.
The family suggests that memorials be made to your favorite Aiken County School Band Program or the Aiken Youth Orchestra, c/o The Aiken Center for the Arts, 122 Laurens Street SW, Aiken, SC 29801.

The family will receive friends from 6 to 9 p.m., Monday, May 1, 2017, at Cole Funeral Home. A celebration life service will be held 11 a.m., Tuesday, May 2, 2017, at Cole Funeral Home Chapel. Interment will be held at private by family only at Southlawn Cemetery.

Arrangements by Cole Funeral Home, 1544 University Parkway (118 Bypass), Aiken, SC 29801, 803-648-7175. Please sign the online registry or order flowers at www.colefuneralhomeinc.com.
Published on  May 1, 2017
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