Slippery Rock University Marching Rockets Alumni

Update 10/13/07 - Final Gather Round

Over 45 people attended the Final Gather 'Round held on the Blasé S. Scarnati Marching Band  Field at 12:30 p.m. on October 13, 2007.

Though there was no "official reporter"  we are pleased to report that  Dr. Robert M. Smith, President, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania attended.  Also attending were members of Mr. S's family anchored by Mrs. S.

In typical Slippery Rock fashion, around noon it became slightly overcast and as you can see form the pictures below required a few layers of clothing.  The good news was the field was dry so no mud on our blue jeans.

We gathered in a circle on the field and George McDowell started things by noting that at the end of every band practice Mr. S. would gather us around him and at that time anyone that had anything to say was encouraged to say it.  So we felt it appropriate to remember Mr. S., by conducting this one final "gather 'round".

Everyone in attendance was given an opportunity to say what was in their hearts.  Of course, this group remembered many good times and notable events.  Many also remembered how Mr. S. said or did something that profoundly affected how they conducted their lives from that point forward. Some commented on how he not only mentored each of us but also how what we learned we have passed on to those who we now mentor so his reach has expanded more than he may have even understood.

From driving over 100 band members in band busses to the emergency room, to recounting football player hooting and reminding the band that some day we would hire them to work for us, to being the godfather, to "you are professionals", to stopping 4 band busses at a local bar in Baltimore and ordering over 100 hamburgers because no other place was open for the band to eat, to many, many more.  We spent at least an hour remembering the good times.

"Cubby" Cubbison was asked to revisit his talk he gave at the banquet after the dedication and again shared fun stories that though we spanned three decades all could relate.  After, a cooler was opened and Champaign distributed (this is how we knew we had over 40 attendees - because George only brought 40 plastic glasses so some of us - though we had never done this before - had to drink from the bottle!)  I was asked to again conduct the toast we had conducted in the dark on August 25.  This was concluded with the pulling of a kazoo from my pocket and us all joining in singing and playing "Suite Judy Blue Eyes".  Most of us are still rhythmically challenged but still know how to clap our hands an, sing and dance!

The circle closed in what could be considered as one big hug.... and repeating something Mr. S shared with many of us closed by .... "Let's go I go t a Turkey in the oven".

Later in the day at halftime, George McDowell read comments about Mr. S. over the loudspeaker and lead a moment of silence remembering Mr. S..  Past band members in attendance stood on the field and remembered Mr. S with the hushed stadium.


One item we wish to put forward to those of you who are reading this.  As you read around the site, you will see in Mr. S's comments after the field dedication his wish to see us continue to stand together and continue to renew old friendships and to create new ones. The reunions were his idea and his hope that the idea would gather and grow.

Over the years many of us have returned to campus (which is changing dramatically) and have noted that things are not the same.  Yes, buildings are there and paths we walked over and over remain. What is missing, that makes our time at the Rock so special, were the people we walked beside and with whom we shared our lives.  Coming back (at least for me) is not the concrete and stone but seeing those faces and sharing those memories of our youth that remain so strong in our hearts.

It was difficult for many of us who spent the last two months close to the events.  But it was even more difficult for those who just "happened" to attend homecoming this year and (now matter how gently we tried to share the information) found out about Mr. S's passing for the first time.

We have over 1,500 names and addresses in the database.  But the first time they were entered was 1996.  We now have about 250 "good" email addresses.  We need your help. We not only need you to make sure your information is current, but we need you to make some phone calls, or write some letters and get those who you know to go to the web site and update their information so we can reach as many as possible and keep people informed about events.  Discussions have begun to consider at least a "Marching Band Tailgate Tent" to be set up each year for those who attend every year.  Also discussion of some regularly planned period of 3 - 5 years making a more serious effort to gather 'round and renew friendships.  We know this may be a lot to get your head around right now but we need to decide if this is something we wish to continue or let pass  because it is now up to us.

In the absence of any "official" organization I will be willing to gather your thoughts and comments and try to compile them here and accept volunteers who wish to take an active role.  Contact me at

Here are a few photos from the final gather 'round



We are sorry we are so late in getting you this information but we just received it ourselves.

You are cordially invited to attend a memorial gather ‘round and toast to celebrate the life of Blase S. Scarnati on Homecoming Saturday, October 13, 2007 at 12:30 p.m. on the Blase S. Scarnati Marching Band Field on the campus of Slippery Rock University.

During the Homecoming Halftime performance, all Marching Rocket Alumni are welcome to take part in a remembrance and moment of silence for Mr. S. No instruments will be necessary.

Please share this information with any and all Marching Rocket alumni and friends. If you have any additional questions, please contact the Slippery Rock University Alumni Relations office at or by calling 724-738-2018.

Many who have come back for homecoming events in the past have made it a tradition of "stopping in to catch up" at the Scarnati residence the Friday night before.  Mrs. S. has graciously invited those who may arrive Friday to "come on over and visit" at the Scarnati house on Friday evening October 12.

Remember all of us have been around long enough to know that you are part of the family and you plan on serving yourself!

If you can make it on such sort notice we hope to see you.


Update 8/29/07

I've been keeping track of the wonderful things that you have been writing on the website about my father-in-law, Blase Scarnati. You may want to add that the "toast" that was read on Saturday night at the Practice Field was also read by George McDowell, who did a wonderful job I might add, at the funeral. Blasé would have loved it.

Lynn Scarnati
(Mrs. David Scarnati)

 Update: 8/25/07

The 2:00 p.m.  - 4:00 p.m.  viewing was attended by many friends, family and Marching Rockets Alumni.

There were at least 30 Marching Rockets Alumni that attended the 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. viewing.

At the funeral home, we were welcomed by the Scarnati Family and visited with Mr. S. who was donning a black tuxedo with a bright green bow tie, cumber bun and handkerchief. Above his head, neatly tri-folded a U.S. Flag and to his left his conducting baton case open with his baton inside.

The funeral home was decorated with pictures of Mr. S. and awards and recognition presented to him over the years and Mary brought the Scrapbook she had made from the dedication of the field and "roast."

After the funeral home closed, we asked everyone to retire to the Blasé S. Scarnati Marching Band Field.

Under the stars in the dark around 9:15 pm for our final gather round.

About 30 of us who had been at the funeral home including David Scarnati gathered on the field.

We asked Bill "Jersey" Fisher  to give each a plastic glass.

We asked Reverend Tony Arrington to bless a bottle of 1998 Dom Pérignon. (that had been cooling in the trunk of my car all day.)

Then Jersey opened it and put some in everyone's glass.

A copy of what was shared is attached at the request of those in attendance

Everybody then in one way or another participated either just speaking up and saying something they always remember Mr. S saying like "If you get in trouble remember you are from Clarion." Or Tony saying "Let's shine like new money.....Ok do it again." , "You've got any problems - a class, a girlfriend or boyfriend - leave 'em outside the gate.  You can pick them pick them up afterwards.  They will still be there waiting.  Right now this is where your focus is.." You get the idea and then they sang the Mr. S. song to the tune of Mickey Mouse and when everyone had said their piece we opened a car door and pushed the button on the CD player and we spent the next 8 minutes singing, dancing, clapping, marching and even twirling a baton to .... Suite Judy Blue Eyes.

Remembrances were left at the field near the sign.  No we were not arrested or even disturbed by campus security (we think thanks to George McDowell).

We all agreed that this was the way we were most comfortable saying goodbye.  We then retired to Ginger Hill.  Yes...a bar in Slippery Rock and that is where we spent the rest of our evening.

I hope that gives you a flavor of how we celebrated the passing of our friend... We wished you could have been with us... But as he is with each of us we now you were there too. :-)

If we hear more from others, we will share it here.


Update: 8/23/07

Home address….226 W. Water Street, Slippery Rock, Pa. 16057

Smith Funeral Home….421 New Castle Street, Slippery Rock, Pa. 16057

The funeral Home will be open for visitors Saturday and Sunday….2:00p.m. - 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

The Funeral will be held , Monday August 27, 2007 with an 11:00 a.m. Mass at St. Peter’s Church, North Main Street, Slippery Rock.

(Thank you Pat Cappatt for the info)


SRU professor emeritus of music Blasé S. Scarnati, retired director of University bands, founder of the Musicians’ Concert Band and recipient of the first President’s Circle Award, died this morning (August 22, 2007) in Grove City Medical Center.

Mr. Scarnati was 72 and maintained homes in Slippery Rock and in Arizona. He retired from SRU in 1996 after 32 years service.

In addition to his teaching and conducting duties at the University, he founded the local community band in 1986 and remained its director until turning over the baton in December of 2005 to Jeff Kroner, an original band member and former music student. Under Scarnati’s leadership, the band grew to more than 100 members and offered four summer concerts and a holiday concert to the local community. The Circle Award was presented at his last MCB performance.

Scarnati earned his bachelor of music degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and his master of music education degree from Duquesne University before undertaking graduate work at Syracuse University. He conducted the SRU Marching Band for 25 years and received the SRU President’s Award for Outstanding Service in 1982. He was the third recipient of an honorary lifetime membership in the SRU Alumni Association.

A marching band practice field west of N. Kerr Thompson Stadium was dedicated in Scarnati’s honor in 2002 marking his service and dedication to the University. He also served as parade marshal for SRU’s homecoming that year.

He is credited for hosting numerous state and district music festivals at SRU and for directing 16 musicals at the University. He was a member of Phi Beta Mu, the national honorary band fraternity, and was named Outstanding Bandmaster in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1988.

Scarnati is survived by his wife, Mary, of Slippery Rock; two sons, Blasé and David; and a daughter, Beth.

Funeral arrangements are at Smith Funeral Home in Slippery Rock. 2-4 PM and 7-9 PM on Saturday, August 25th and Sunday, August 26th.


More than the notification above, I think you would agree, in addition to the music he did more by being a friend and helped mold many productive lives and is survived by hundreds whose lives in which he made a difference.

Please pass this along to anyone whom you may be able to reach.

May you have a chance to join the final "gather round".

Kevin Krepinevich

Tuba, Drum Major 72-76