Helen DeVaney (1917-2007). Ms. DeVaney was born and raised in Jersey City, NJ. She worked as an executive secretary on and off throughout her life, but was first and foremost a professional singer. Ms. DeVaney, whose stage name was Helen Dee, was a torch singer in the 1930s and 1940s. She sang at Kelly's Stables, a jazz club on Manhattan's 52nd Swing Street, regularly accompanied by pianist Thelonious Monk. She retired from performing when she married and had children, but returned to singing in the mid-'60s when she sang with pianist Dick Wellstood. In recent years, Ms. DeVaney lived in Port Washington and was an original resident of Landmark on Main Street. She is survived by a daughter Dr. Helen Stevens of Port Washington; grandchildren, Stevan and Kate Pedatella of Manhattan; a son and daughter-in-law, Robert and Tina Smelser and three grandsons of Pembroke Pines, FL.
Walter "Wally" Wegner, a longtime resident of Port Washington, passed away Aug. 16, 2007 at the Sands Point Center for Health and Rehabilitation after a long illness. He was 87.
Mr. Wegner played flute, clarinet and saxophone in a musical career that began in his teens. He served in the U.S. Army during WWII and was a member in Gen. George Patton's personal Third Army Band, where he played the piccolo. He worked with bandleaders such as Ray McKinley, Reggie Childs, Ina Ray Hutton and Ted Straeter and with vocalists Kay Thompson and Judy Garland, among others.
For many years, he was a musician for off-Broadway and Broadway shows. He played in the 1954 production of The Threepenny Opera at the Theatre DeLys (now the Lucille Loretel Theater) in Greenwich Village. His Broadway credits and cast recordings include Bye Bye Birdie, Here's Love, No Strings, Fiddler on the Roof, The Apple Tree and 1776. In No Strings, Richard Rodgers groundbreaking 1962 musical, Mr. Wegner was one of six musicians who performed onstage instead of the orchestra pit. The show did not have an overture, opening instead with his solo flute playing the introduction song, The Sweetest Sounds, sung by Diahann Carroll. This opening number was featured on the Ed Sullivan Show with Mr. Wegner and Ms. Carroll.
Mr. Wegner moved to Port Washington in 1963. After retiring from Broadway, he taught instrumental music in the Port Washington and Great Neck school districts during the 1970s and 1980s. Up until 2006, he continued to perform for theater productions and concerts at C.W. Post College's Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, the Sousa Band Shell in Sunset Park, Port Washington, and in various other engagements in the metropolitan New York area and Long Island. He was a member of the Band of LI, based in Great Neck.
Born July 30, 1920 in Manhattan, he attended Newtown High School in Flushing. He earned his bachelor of music degree from the Manhattan School of Music in 1961. In addition to his performing engagements, he gave private music lessons for many years and taught woodwinds to numerous students in Queens and Long Island, including Port Washington and Great Neck. He attended Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Manhorhaven.
Mr. Wegner is survived by his wife Patricia Neelan Wegner whom he married in 1980. He is also survived by two daughters from his first marriage, Karen Pilant (Michael) and Wendy Wegner; and two grandchildren, Monica Pilant and Brian Pilant. His first wife, Betty Wegner, died in 1977.
Arrangements were made by the Austin F. Knowles Funeral Home, Port Washington.