Remembering a local jazz musician: Sal Ronci dies at age 83

Ormond Beach resident Sal Ronci, of the The Sal Ronci Band, dedicated his life to inspiring the love of music.

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  • | 10:30 a.m. November 17, 2020
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Local musician Salvatore "Sal" Ronci died on Nov. 9, of complications caused by COVID-19 and Parkinson's disease. He was 83.

Born Salvatore Ronciglione in Philadelphia on Jan. 19, 1937, to Italian immigrant Giuseppe Ronciglione and first-generation Italian-American Rose Aveni, Ronci moved with his family to New Haven, Connecticut, after his family home burned in a fire, according to his obituary at Dignity Memorial. Later, he discovered a gift and love for music while in school, leading him to study the trumpet with Armado Ghitalla of the Boston Symphony Orchestra while he attended the Hartt Schol of Music in Hartford, Connecticut. 

Ronci moved to Florida in 1956 with his family, and he transferred to the University of Miami where he toured with The Coralairs, a five-man vocal group of fellow UM students. He met Judith "Judy" Cantor while at school and the two married in 1958. They settled in Miami and raised three children, both launching successful careers as teachers. Ronci continued to book gigs as a trumpet and electric bass player, as well as a singer and band leader. 

Sal Ronci was a local musician and former educator. Courtesy photo
Sal Ronci was a local musician and former educator. Courtesy photo

Ronci spent 30 years teaching music in the Miami-Dade School district and working as a licensed real estate agent before he retired to Ormond Beach, where his parents and sisters lived. 

He was featured in the Ormond Beach Observer in 2012 for his local jazz band, The Sal Ronci Band, which performed at the Daytona Bandshell. His passion for music, especially the complexity of jazz, was ever present. 

“It’s impossible to say, ‘This is jazz,’ in one word,” Ronci said at the time. “If I were to say bebop or progressive jazz is jazz, that’s not the case (either). It’s nothing but confusion if you try to pigeonhole it into one thing.”

Ronci is survived by his wife Judy of 62 years; his daughter Julie Sipes and son Michael Ronci, of Ormond Beach; son Jeff Ronci of Miami; sisters Loretta Tutle Santiago, of Edgewater, and Marie Richardson of Daytona Beach; uncle Carlyle Aveni, of New Haven, Connecticut; aunt Anna Ronciglione Durkin, of Philadelphia; and nearly two dozen nieces, nephews, cousins, friends and fellow musicians, and the numerous students and audiences he inspired.  

Services are currently postponed due to COVID-19. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Halifax Humane Society of Volusia County, Parkinson’s Foundation and St. Jude’s Hospital.


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