Spotlight on a Hurleyville Treasure: April 2020


Described as a legend by his nephew, Joseph LaRuffa was born on March 19, 1922 in Oyster Bay on Long Island.

Joe was the fourth of eleven children…two boys and nine girls…born to Frank and Angelina LaRuffa.

A graduate of Oyster Bay High School and a clarinet player, Joe received a scholarship to study music at the University of Miami. His studies were interrupted by his service in the United States Army during World War II.

He was awarded the American Service Medal, the European, African and Middle Eastern Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal in recognition of his participation in campaigns throughout Europe during the war.

Joe completed his education after the war. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from New York University in 1950 and a Master of Arts degree from Columbia University in 1954.

He began his career as an educator in 1950 in Clinton County, New York. In 1954 Joe began a thirty-year career as the music and band director at the Fallsburg Central School District.

Joe married the love of his life, Jeannette (Jenny) Andresky, in 1957. They made their home in the house in Hurleyville that Jenny was born in. Their children, Mary Ann, Angela and Frank, became musicians and played in Joe’s concert bands.

The Fallsburg concert bands’ performances were outstanding under Joe’s direction. The bands played at the 1964 World’s Fair and the 1965 commencement ceremony at SUNY Sullivan. A memorable performance was at the opening ceremony of the hospital in Ellenville in 1966 where the audience included President Lyndon Johnson.

Joe served as chairman of the Hertz Scholarship while teaching in Fallsburg. The fund has been renamed the Hertz-LaRuffa Scholarship and provides financial assistance for graduating Fallsburg students.

He represented Clinton County schools and later Sullivan County schools while serving as a delegate to the New York State School Music Association. Joe also served as president of the Clinton County Music Education Association and the Sullivan County Music Education Association.

During the 1960’s Joe helped create the Empire State Music Camp in Hurleyville. The camp enabled young people to grow their knowledge of music in the beautiful Catskill Mountains.

Joe’s dedication as a teacher earned him the Outstanding Secondary Educator Award in 1975. He was the second person inducted into the Fallsburg Central School District Hall of Fame in 2014.

A member of the Hurleyville Fire Department for more than fifty-five years, Joe served as the department’s secretary. He also served as secretary and treasurer of the Hurleyville Fire District. A Town of Fallsburg Councilman for sixteen years, Joe was a member of the Town of Fallsburg Lions Club and a two-time president of the Hurleyville Chamber of Commerce.

Retirement didn’t slow Joe down. He gave music lessons in his home in Hurleyville during the summer. He taught for more than twenty years in the Pinellas County Middle Schools while spending time in his winter home in St. Petersburg, Florida. Joe helped his retirement community become resident-owned and he served as the community’s first president for four years.

Joe passed away on October 6, 2019. His memory is cherished by his wife, Jenny, his daughters, Mary Ann and Angela, his son, Frank, his daughter-in-law, Jennifer, and his grandchildren, Olivia and Joe.

Joe is certainly one of Hurleyville’s special treasures.

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