James A. Colonna, 89, of Selinsgrove, formerly of Punxsutawney, passed away on Tuesday, March 2 at his home after a long illness. Jim was born June 13, 1931 in Kittanning, a son of the late James V. and Maria (Mazza) Colonna. On July 19, 1969, he married Ruth E. Kerr. He was a parishioner at Saints Cosmas and Damian Roman Catholic Church in Punxsutawney where he served as a cantor and choir member. Most recently he attended St. Pius X Catholic Church in Selinsgrove. Jim was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean War and served in the Anti-Aircraft Corp in Pittsburgh.
He graduated from St. Vincent College in 1956 and earned his Master’s degree in music from Duquesne University. He had a distinguished career of 37 years as the Band Director and Music Department chair at Punxsutawney Area High School where he was a teacher of well over a thousand students and a second father to many. He took his students to perform at the World’s fair in NYC and several times to Walt Disney World. Perhaps his proudest moment was having his band selected to perform at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for a 4th of July concert in Washington DC. Jim retired in 1993 with a concert in Barclays Square attended by more than 1,000 well-wishers.
He will be remembered as an amazing and loving husband, father, grandfather, a champion of music education, and a dedicated teacher and mentor. In addition to his wife Ruth of 51 years, Jim is survived by four children and their families: Jim Colonna and his wife Chrissy of Dover, PA; Kimberly Colonna of Harrisburg, PA; Colleen Wentz and her husband Ed of Selinsgrove, PA; and Corry Colonna of Long Beach, CA. Additionally, he is survived by six beautiful grandchildren, Abigail and Anthony Colonna and Alexandra, Zachary, Isabella, and Aubrianne Wentz; he is also survived by his sister, Jeanette Schmidt and family of Butler, PA.
A private funeral mass was held at St. Pius X Catholic Church, Selinsgrove with Father Tukura Pius Michael OP as celebrant. Private interment with military honors accorded by the Jefferson Co. Veteran’s Honorguard will be held in Calvary Cemetery, Punxsutawney. The family anticipates hosting a celebration of Jim’s life this summer. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Colonna Family Scholarship at St. Vincent College, 300 Fraser Purchase Rd. Latrobe, PA 15650. Arrangements were by the V.L. Seebold Funeral Home, 601 N. High St., Selinsgrove.
Classmates Remember James Colonna.
From Max Clark:
Thanks for the message about Mr. Colonna. I never realized he was only 11 years older than us, when we were in High School. He had quite a career as band director, and was following in his father’s footsteps as a band director. I had a lot of respect for him. Max
From Andrea Hicks:
Always so kind to me.
From David Long:
Thanks for sharing this about Jim Colonna. Another of many outstanding role models for our generation.
From Bill Chelgren:
I have often wondered where he was and how he was doing. I didn’t realize he had done all those things with different Punxsy bands. I remember making a recording when I was in band and it was done on an LP record. I wish now that I had not gotten rid of it
From Carol Grossman Savas:
He had an amazing full life. What a treat it was for me to visit with him at the 55th. Great guy too.
From Nance Finley:
I played trumpet in Jr. High, We had to play an instrument before you could try out for a majorette which I did in Sr. High!
From Jerry Popovice:
RIP, Mr. Colonna, RIP!
From Harry Fletcher:
In our wonderful Lord,