Cover photo for Frank Ferriano Jr.'s Obituary
Frank Ferriano Jr. Profile Photo
1926 Frank 2024

Frank Ferriano Jr.

February 6, 1926 — April 26, 2024

Dr. Frank Ferriano, Jr. age 98, of Madison peacefully left the world April 26, 2024 at Four Winds Lodge in Verona. He was a musician, teacher, scholar; a sports fanatic, a history and politics aficionado, and devoted husband, father and friend. He had a story or a lecture for any subject you could imagine. 

Frank was born February 6, 1926 in Chicago to Frank and Frances Ferriano. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 59 years, Carolyn, his parents and his sister, Angie Halay, along with many friends and extended family. He is survived by his daughter, Sharon Mischio, her husband Greg, grandchildren Sam and Anna Mischio, sister Annette Wood, nieces and nephews, and brother-in-law and sister-in-law Robert and Susie Hofstetter. 

Frank grew up in Milwaukee, and graduated from South Division High School in January, 1944. He was drafted into the Navy and was talented and lucky enough to earn a musician’s rating, which qualified him to be in the Navy Band (1944-1954). Frank loved to tell stories about his time in the Navy during WWII and Korea, especially when he was serving on Long Island, NY. 

Frank was able to attend The Juilliard School of Music on the GI bill, where he continued to hone his craft as a musician and composer. He played trombone in various bands, and took composition classes from Richard Franco Goldman, Henry Brant and Vincent Perichetti. He was forever grateful for his time at Julliard, where he made life-long friends. 

After Juilliard, Frank toured with the Sauter-Finegan big band and the Les and Larry Elgard Orchestras. As the era of swing music was ending, Frank enrolled in Columbia University Teachers College Music and Music Education program, where he earned his Master’s degree, and later his PhD. During this time he also taught instrumental music in the New York State and New Jersey public Schools (1955-1968). 

During this time, Frank met the love of his life, Carolyn Hofstetter, and they were married in 1965. Three years later, they had a daughter, Sharon. 

In 1968, Frank was given the opportunity to take a faculty position at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, so that he could develop a jazz program. He taught arranging, music fundamentals, music literature, jazz history, brass technique, and directed jazz and brass ensembles. (1968-1991). 

Frank developed a class called The History of Popular Music, which became a student favorite. He also started a Jazz Festival for high schools from the surrounding areas, where he brought in excellent clinicians. 

During his tenure at Whitewater, Frank wrote arrangements and compositions for jazz ensemble, wind ensemble, brass chamber groups and choral groups. In his spare time, along with composing and arranging music, he owned and played in a band called “The In-Laws”. They played for weddings and other events. 

In 1990, Frank’s Fanfare for Orchestra was one of six pieces selected from an orchestral fanfare competition to be performed by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. After retiring in 1991, Frank was commissioned by UW Whitewater to write a composition for the opening of the Irving G. Young Arts Center. It was called, A Joyous Recessional

Even though Frank’s plate was full with work, he always found time to attend Sharon’s sports events, concerts and other school activities. He and Carolyn also played in bridge clubs and were a part of a gourmet dinner club. Frank could often be found watching the Brewers, Bucks or Packers while arranging music on a TV table, or listening to a game on his transistor radio with an earpiece as he mowed the lawn. 

During his retirement, Frank and Carolyn lived in Sarasota, FL for nine years, where he volunteered at the American Cancer Society as a driver, and also at the Music Archives, where he found a great group of friends. He also made time for golf, neighborhood events and travel. 

He continued working on his music during retirement. Frank was one of the first users of a composing and arranging software program called Fanfare. He spent hours learning how to use it and was thrilled to be able to master the program and speed up his composing and arranging. He continued to use it until he was in his early 90’s. 

After the birth of grandchildren Sam and Anna, Frank and Carolyn moved back to Wisconsin full time, and settled in Madison to be near family. They could always be found at Sam and Anna’s sports, music and dance events. Grandpa Frank was extremely proud of his grandchildren. 

Never one to slow down, Frank continued to volunteer for the Cancer Society as a driver, and also directed the Retro Swing Band. He also became fast friends with James Latimer, director of the Capitol City Band, the VFW Band and the Madison Marimba Quartet. These two amazing gentlemen made beautiful music together, with Frank arranging hundreds of pieces of music over the years and Jim conducting and these wonderful groups. Frank also arranged music for and enjoyed watching the Madison Jazz Orchestra over the years. He and Carolyn enjoyed singing in the choir at First Unitarian Society, and Frank did several arrangements for various music groups at First Unitarian. 

Frank and Carolyn’s retirement was also spent doing lots of travel, which Frank remembered fondly. They were able to see parts of Europe, Hawaii, Alaska and various places around the US. Some of the best family memories were trips to Anna Maria Island in Florida with the entire family and also friends, including Greg’s parents, Barbara and George Mischio. Sam’s buddies always loved watching the NCAA tournament with Grandpa Frank during these trips. 

In his later years, Frank could always be found at his computer, composing or arranging music, with C-Span or a Brewer game blasting in the background. He was a quiet, docile guy, unless his team was losing, or the “wrong” political party did something to annoy him. He could also be found reading a book or the newspaper or working on the crossword with a cat on his lap. 

Once he reached his mid-90’s most of his computer activities were watching old big-band videos and his favorite singers, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Tony Bennett and others on YouTube. Frank also became a big fan of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, and loved to show family old movie clips of their dancing. He did this almost until the day he died. 

Frank loved keeping in touch with former students on Facebook, and loved to see what they were up to. He got a big surprise on his 98th birthday, when one of his former students, Don Deal, surprised him and sat in with the VFW Band for a birthday concert in his honor. The concert was a beautiful event, with the musicians volunteering their time and the entire show being Frank’s arrangements and compositions. A big thank you to James and MJ Lattimer and all of the musicians, and to Don Deal for the wonderful surprise. 

We are forever grateful to the loving care Frank and Carolyn received at All Saints Assisted Living in Madison, and for the care Frank received at Four Winds Lodge in Verona. We are also extremely appreciative of all the amazing care he received from his Agrace nurses, CNA’s, volunteers and social workers. You were our village. 

Frank's Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday, July 14 at 1:00 PM at First Unitarian Society, 900 University Bay Drive.

In lieu of flowers, please donate to Agrace, Fitchburg, or Wisconsin Public Radio.

We welcome you to share your thoughts and memories on Frank's Tribute Wall. 

Cress Funeral & Cremation Service
3610 Speedway Road
Madison, WI
(608) 238-3434

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Sunday, July 14, 2024

1:00 - 3:00 pm (Central time)

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