July 7, 1914 – Feb. 3, 2016
John Krestic, a music teacher and school band leader, died Wednesday under Hospice care in Mercy Hospital in Buffalo, a few days after suffering a stroke. He was 101.
Born in Harvey, Ill., Mr. Krestic grew up attending schools in Lancaster. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Fredonia Normal School and taught instrumental music at Silver Creek Central Schools from 1937 to 1944.
During those years, he played professionally in the Carborundum Band, which was broadcast over the Columbia Radio Network from Niagara Falls. He also worked as director of music at Churchill Tabernacle during the time when it was broadcast eight hours every Sunday on WKBW radio.
In 1944, he took a teaching position at Amherst Central High School and eventually became chair of the music department. In 1950, he took a sabbatical to earn a master’s degree at the University of Michigan. He worked at the high school until his retirement in 1969.
He served briefly in the Army late in World War II, including playing in a service band in Fort Lee, Va. He organized and directed the Buffalo Bills football team band from 1947 to 1951, and conducted the Post 264, American Legion band, in Tonawanda, to eight consecutive state championships from 1948 to 1955. Mr. Krestic taught music education courses at Rosary Hill College from 1949 to 1962. From 1950 to 1959, he directed the University at Buffalo band.
Mr. Krestic organized and served as the first president of the Erie County Music Educators Association in 1948 and was a member of the New York State School Music Association, serving as a Zone 1 representative from 1960 to 1962. He ran Snyder Photo Service, a commercial and portrait photography business, out of his home in the 1950s and 1960s.
After his retirement from Amherst Central, he taught and supervised student teachers at SUNY Fredonia before moving to Sarasota, Fla.
He moved back to the area with his late wife, the former Helen Kelsey, in the early 1990s.
Later in life, Mr. Krestic enjoyed woodworking and won first-place prizes in 2000 at the Chautauqua County Fair and the New York State Fair. He also enjoyed gardening and bowling into his 90s.
His wife of 68 years died in 2004. The couple met playing in a community orchestra in the Marilla area. He is survived by daughter, Karen; son, John; sister, Florence; six grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.