Henry J. Baron was born on November 5, 1913, in Chicopee, Massachusetts. He was the eldest son of John and Apolonia (Jasinska) Baron. He grew up on Lawrence Road and attended Chicopee schools in the company of elder sisters, Adele and Alice, and younger brothers, Frank and Walter.
He loved music and began serious study at age 7 under the tutelage of his father and, later, with professional teachers. At 13, he was supporting the family income playing at Polish weddings and dances and word of his talent was spreading. Henry also had a thriving bicycle repair and parts exchange enterprise.
At one of those weddings, he met a beautiful young bridesmaid, Adele Lois Skutnik, sister of the groom, and he knew instantly she was the one he would marry. Following a one-year engagement, they were married on June 1, 1936. After their honeymoon at the New York World’s Fair, the newlyweds settled on Chapin Street in Ludlow, Massachusetts.
Henry’s musical career was established playing first clarinet and saxophone with the Melody Kings, a popular dance band with weekly radio broadcasts. He continued doing more and more concert work. Adele worked as a cost analyst for F.W. Sickles & Co. in Chicopee. Their daughter, Phyllis, was born in February 1937. A hoped-for career opportunity came in 1939, when Henry was hired by the American Bosch Co. of Springfield (now a division of United Technologies) as a quality control engineer for magnetos and diesel injectors. He held that position for 40 years until his retirement in 1979.
In the interim, Henry served for four years in the Massachusetts National Guard 44th Infantry Band at Ft. Devens, Massachusetts. From 1944 to 1945, Henry served in the U.S Army Air Force as lead clarinet in the 558th Army Air Force Band and Concert Ensemble and saxophone in the dance band. He served in the Pacific Theatre on Saipan, Guam, and Okinawa, and his decorations include the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with the Bronze Star. Following his honorable discharge in 1945, he returned to his position at American Bosch and his music career.
Many will remember Henry for his concert appearances at Szot Park, Stanley Park, college and university commencements, town festivals, and countless parades with the 22nd Infantry Band, the 44th Massachusetts Infantry Band, The Springfield Elks Band, the Shrine Circus Band, and the Gremio Lusitano Band. Others will remember the many dance bands and orchestras he played with spanning his 67 year career, including Robak & Fronc Orchestra, Stanley T. Kapinos and his Cavaliers Orchestra, the Melody Kings, Walt Solek & his band, the Al Sojka Orchestra, Larry Chesky, the Ziemienski Brothers, and the Chopin Group. Henry also played for many stage performances including the Storrowton and the Eastern States Exposition, Broadway musicals, circuses, the rodeo, the Ice Capades, and many other headliners. He played them all and loved every minute of it.
Henry officially retired at the age of 80. With his wife of 52 years having died in 1988 and at the urging of his daughter, he happily moved to Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, to be near her and away from the New England winters.
In March of 1995, following a lengthy illness, he moved to the luxury retirement community of Prosperity Oaks, which he served as president of the community for more than 5 years. He continued to play musical instruments for his neighbors, which brought him a special community award and citation for humanitarian service.
Henry was a communicant of Christ the King Church and a member of Musicians Local 171.
Mr. Baron is survived by his widowed daughter, Mrs. Ruxton Schuh of Jupiter, Florida; his brother and sister-in-law, Walter and Victoria Baron of Chicopee; his nephews, Walter (Jane) Baron of Wellfleet, Massachusetts, Stanley (Margaret) Skutnik of Ware, Massachusetts, Edward (Carol) Skutnik of Lenox, Massachusetts and Sarasota, Florida, and Jeffery (Susan) Skutnik of Westport, Connecticut; his nieces, Mrs. Roger Steeves of Glastonbury, Connecticut, Mrs. William Mulvaney of Scottsdale, Arizona, and Mrs. Sal Intrieri of South Salem, New York; and sisters-in-law, Mrs. Stanley Skutnik of Ludlow and Mrs. Mitchell Skutnik of Port Chester, New York.
Friday, August 30, 9 a.m