My Uncle Mark was born on July 4th, 1958. He was the second born of five to Helen Williams and Jack Williams Sr. My mother was the fourth of their five children. Mark grew up in Rochester New York, and attended Brighton High School. He went on to study music at Colgate graduating cum laude in 1980. He later received a Ph.M in Musicology from Yale University. After his education, he worked at the Sibley Music Library at the Eastman School of Music for 3 years. He moved to New York City in 1992 and ultimately became the Director of Music at Trinity Lutheran Church in Sunset Park, Brooklyn from 1999-2013. My Uncle was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2000, at the age of 42. Initially this disease did not have a major effect on his life; however his symptoms worsened over time. Uncle Mark was a very talented musician, and unfortunately his condition has limited his abilities as a piano player. He has received many forms of treatment, both medicinal and surgical, including a Deep Brain Stimulation implant in 2014. With his partner Robert Monegan, Mark has worked hard to benefit PD advocacy groups. He continues to work as a web designer promoting art and business. His website can be found at www.markthaddeus.com.
Here is a shortened audio segment of Mark’s Senior Thesis at Colgate University. He played W. A. Mozart’s Concerto For Two Pianos, accompanied by the Colgate University Orchestra. The original piece lasts around seven minutes from start to finish.
My grandfather, Andrew J. Barbaccia Sr., was born on January 9th, 1926. He was born in Manhattan to parents who had immigrated from Godrano, a small town in Sicily. He grew up in New York City and enlisted in the United States Army at the start of WWII, where he served in the Signal Corps. After the war, he enrolled at Manhattan College and later graduated with a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering. He married Florence Grimaldi in 1950 and they had seven children, my father being their sixth. My grandfather spent most of his career working as a technical sales engineer in the aerospace industry. His interests included carpentry, golfing, fishing, hunting, camping, and bike riding. He loved home improvement projects and was always a very hard worker. My grandfather developed PD in his early seventies. Even with good medical treatment, his disease progressed rapidly and he passed away in late April of 2002 at the age of 76. I was 8 years old when he passed away. While I did have some time as a child to get to know him, his condition limited him from being the active person he was. When he passed away it was a tragedy to our family, having lost someone so bright and outgoing due to an incurable condition. I have learned much about him through stories and memories, but I regret never getting to know him very well. He will continue to live on through his children, grandchildren, and onward.