A. J. “TONY” FASSINO
Anton Joseph Fassino was born on July 29, 1915, in Ladd, Illinois, the son of Italian born Matt Anton Fassino and his American bride, Rose. A. J. graduated from De Pue Illinois High School in 1934 where he became proficient on trumpet and was selected as a member of the All-State Orchestra.
He chose De Paul University in Chicago and completed work on a Bachelor of Music Education degree in three years while playing in dance bands to pay his way through school. He married Eleanora Marietta and moved to Syracuse, Kansas, to begin his teaching career. After one year he and his wife returned to Illinois and A. J. taught concurrently in several private and parochial schools. Two sons, Michael and Fred, were born in 1939 and 1941.
World War II began and A. J. volunteered for the Air Force but was turned down, only later to be drafted by the Army in 1944. He was assigned to Special Services and stationed in Texas. The Army would not accept Anton as his first name, and enlisted him as Anthony instead. A. J. began using the name, Tony, a nickname his mother had called him.
When he was discharged from the service, Tony decided to relocate in Texas. He returned to Illinois and loaded his family and their belongings in a panel truck which his father gave him from the family grocery business. The family came south to Luling where Tony quickly built the band into a top-flight organization.
His bands won the Brady and Brownsville festivals as well as UIL events, and in 1955, he was enticed to Industrial High School in Vanderbilt. Not knowing that superintendent Charles Holmes had been instructed to pay whatever was necessary to get him, Tony told Holmes that Vanderbilt probably could not pay what he would need to move. He named a figure and Holmes asked him if he could move tomorrow.
In 1962, Industrial became one of the two first Class A (now AA) Honor bands in Texas. The band also represented Texas at the Lions International Convention in Chicago. Consecutive Sweepstakes and three Outstanding Band Awards at the Buccaneer Festival set the band apart from others. After ten years, Tony moved to the South Park ISD in Beaumont to begin another rebuilding job but a serious illness took his life on April 15, 1966.
Both sons, Michael and Fred, became successful Texas band directors. Michael recently retired from an educational software company, and Fred is Music Supervisor for the Katy ISD.
Mrs. Fassino was very popular with parents and students of the band programs. She attended many rehearsals and every performance. Tony said she was very active in helping him with the responsibilities of his profession.
During those Industrial ISD years, Tony served as a clinician for the college student division in TMEA. He was named to the State Curriculum Guide Committee; was clinician, adjudicator and a friend for bands throughout the state. While the Texas Honor Band, three consecutive Buccaneer Outstanding Awards, and the many sweepstakes are a legacy, his statement on the application form in Beaumont in 1965 reveals the real Tony Fassino.
“My wife and I have been happy in helping young people during their formative years to mold a better life for themselves. We feel that music plays a big part in a well-rounded person.”