Michael L. Pedicine, 98, of Ardmore, a popular local musician who placed his family above his career, died of pneumonia Sunday, June 26, at his home.
In the 1950s, his version of "Shake a Hand" became a national hit, but Mr. Pedicine chose to remain where he felt most at home: the Philadelphia area.
Mr. Pedicine started playing the saxophone at age 9, and by 10 was a regular on the local radio show The Horn & Hardart Children's Hour, playing live every Sunday for eight years, granddaughter Christine Gatta said.
Gatta said that as a young man, Mr. Pedicine played in a band at the Ritz-Carlton behind Frank Sinatra.
But professional success was never as important to Mr. Pedicine as his family.
"My father was without question the happiest, most content, fully adjusted, satisfied, loving, creative human being I have ever met," his son and fellow musician Michael Pedicin said.
At 80, his son said, Mr. Pedicine retired from the band he had played with since age 18. He gave one of his saxophones to his son and sold the other.
Bewildered, Mr. Pedicin asked his father how he could give up his talent and passion. "I played enough," he responded.
Even in the midst of his fame, when agents were calling about his gospel-turned-dance song that sold over a million copies, Mr. Pedicine declined to travel far from family, his son said.
"He really never wanted more than to play good music, make a living, and be with his family in the suburbs," his son said.
Just weeks before his death, Mr. Pedicine was as active and spunky as ever, his son and granddaughter said.
"He was fun," his son said. "I mean, at 98, you don't meet many people who are fun."
He recalled a trip to Italy for Mr. Pedicine's 80th birthday. They visited a cousin living in a convent attached to the Vatican.
"He had those nuns smiling and singing and dancing with him," he said.
In addition to his son and granddaughter, Mr. Pedicine is survived by daughter Barbara; four other grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife, Marie.
A viewing was held from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, June 28, at the Funeral Home of John Stretch, 236 E. Eagle Rd, Havertown. Another will be Wednesday, June 29, from 9 to 9:45 a.m. at St. Colman's Church, Lancaster Avenue and Simpson Road, Ardmore. A Funeral Mass will follow at 10. Interment will be at St. Denis Cemetery, Havertown.
Donations may be made to the Alzheimer's Association, 399 Market St., Suite 102, Philadelphia 19106.