Gaetano "Guy” Montana Sr. passed away peacefully at his home on November 13, 2023, in St. Bernard, Louisiana at the age of 85. He is survived by his three children, Yvette Marie, Angele Montana, and Gaetano Montana Jr. (Kelly), along with his granddaughter, Chloe Jean Montana, and one sister, Deborah Montana. He is preceded in death by his beloved mother, Evelyn Otillio Montana, his father, Joseph Montana Sr., his brother Joseph Montana, Jr., and his granddaughter, Rachel Angele Montana. He was a member of and an usher at Our Lady Prompt Succor Catholic Church in Chalmette, LA.
After graduating from Francis T. Nicholls High School in New Orlean’s 7th Ward, Mr. Montana entered the Naval Reserves, where he served as a Corpsman. After his stint in the Naval Reserve, he chose a trade as a pipe fitter/welder and was a Plumbers and Steam Fitters Local Union 60 member.
In addition to his family, Mr. Montana had another great love in his life, and that was music. At an early age, Guy would visit his namesake grandfather, Gaetano Montana, a native of Alcamo, Sicily, and Italian Hall (Unione Italia) manager for 30-plus years. In addition to providing meeting space for the Italian Mutual Aid Societies of the City, the Italian Hall held various social events, especially dances. Many of the bands who played there in the early days of Jazz became known for helping to create what was called “The Sicilian Sound”, a mixture of Sicilian brass horn music mixed with African-American beats. At a young age, Guy’s grandfather would let his grandson watch the bands rehearse for the dances held there, igniting his interest in music. His grandfather was also a talented musician who played various instruments, including French Horn, saxophone, guitar, bass horn, and more. These musical influences led to Guy’s interest in becoming a musician. When he was 9, his mother bought him his first instrument, a clarinet, which he played until age 17, when he bought himself a previously owned saxophone. With help from neighbor George Lewis, a well-known musician responsible for reviving New Orleans jazz music in the 1940s, he learned to play his secondhand saxophone. In 1964, he joined the earlier, previously established local rhythm and blues band The Jokers and played tenor and baritone sax. In 1998, Mr. Montana was inducted into the Louisiana Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2014, he was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall Hall of Fame as a saxophonist with the Jokers. In 1990, along with Wade Schindler, Mr. Montana cofounded the Jesters, another popular Rhythm and Blues band. After retiring from the music business, he still enjoyed dancing to his favorite bands on Sunday nights.
In addition to his musical background, Mr. Montana was an avid fisherman for most of his life. He was very familiar with the waterways of St. Bernard and the surrounding area. Guy also enjoyed fishing for bass and took up fly fishing a little later in his life. He eventually learned to tie his own flies and became so proficient that he sold his flies to tackle stores around the area under the name “Guy’s Flies.” He made fly fishing poles as well.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend the visitation on Wednesday, November 22, at 10:00 AM until the Funeral Service at 12:00 P.M. at Jacob Schoen & Son Funeral Home, 3827 Canal St., New Orleans, LA, 70119; Interment will follow at St. Louis No 3 Cemetery.