Rocco Polera of Pelham, New York passed away on Sunday, January 22. He
was 82 years old. Born in Utica, New York to John and Theresa Polera,
He attended Utica public schools and graduated from Proctor High School. Upon graduation, Rocco
attended the University of Michigan from where he would receive his
Bachelor's of Arts Degree. While touring with the MU band to New
York City, Rocco went to the top of the Empire State Building where by chance
he met Mildred Hall of Ithaca , NY. They were married four years later in 1959
and remained married for 57 years.
in 1958 Rocco moved to Pelham, NY and began what would be a life of
dedication to educating generations of young people. His career in
Pelham started when he was hired as Director of Instrumental Music for
the Pelham Public School District. He would transform the Music
Department into an inclusive integrated program. His students began to
perform at many venues including Shea Stadium. His innovation and
foresight in his field led him to become a vital part of the development
of the Pelham Public School System. Through his work across all levels of education he
left his mark on thousands of students' lives as Principal at
Hutchinson, Siwanoy and Prospect Hill Elementary Schools and Asst
Principal at both Pelham Middle School and Pelham Memorial High School.
He was Director of Instruction and Personnel and Interim Asst.
Superintendent of Schools giving him the opportunity to affect many
teachers' and employees in the Pelham community as well.
Always an educator and student, Rocco returned to his beloved Michigan
University over several summers in the mid 1960's. He took his family
but spent the time working on and his Masters of Music Education which
he achieved in 1965. He also received his Administrative Certification from NYU.
Throughout the years, Rocco served and worked on many school committees
that made the school system in Pelham stronger. He conceived and
organized and implemented the first town wide Arts Festival representing
music, art, and drama for grades K-12. He was the conductor of the famed
Pelham Pops Band.
Rocco was a proud member of many organizations including: Rotary Club of
Pelham, NYS Administrators' Assoc., Pelham Administrators' Association,
Elementary Principals' Assoc., Local 38 Musicians' Union, Pelham Art
Center Trustee, Pelham Guidance Center Board, Pelham Public Library
Trustee, The Danny Fund.
Music was his first passion. He was a member of many musical groups including
The Lehman College Community Band, St. Thomas Orchestra, Bronxville Summer Concerts,
and the Conductor of the Pelham Pops Band. He also loved tennis, golf and traveling.
Mostly Rocco loved his family and was a devoted family man and member of the Pelham
community.Rocco is survived by his beloved wife of 57 years, Mildred and his
children: Susan (Richard) Falasca, Wendy (Robert) Stampf and Steven,
11 grandchildren and 1 great-grandaughter.
A funeral Mass will be held on Thursday, January 26th, at St.
Catharine's Church, 25 Second Ave., Pelham, NY at 11:00 AM. In lieu of
flowers, donations may be made in Rocco's name to The Danny Fund or the Pelham