On January 16, 2016, Kenneth Theodore Sickinger, 72, of Newburgh New York, took his final earthly breath at home and began life in his eternal home with his Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, after struggling for years with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease.)
Ken (Massapequa High School '61, B.A. SUNY Fredonia '65, M.A. SUNY Fredonia '66) brought joy and laughter to many lives as a musician and educator. For 40 years, "Dr. Music," with his special brand of humor, taught the children of the Newburgh Enlarged City Schools to perform and appreciate instrumental music. He taught at Gidney Avenue, South Junior, West Street, Balmville, Fostertown, Horizons On Hudson, Meadow Hill, and Vails Gate schools, his students achieving great successes due to his instruction. Ken composed much of the music his students performed, led a school paper-salvage drive in 1971 long before recycling was a household word, and made music come alive for his young students through innovations. These included interdisciplinary events such as Revolutionary War-themed and Civil War-themed concerts, uniting the music programs of two elementary schools with guest speakers, exhibits, and costumes; another was a popular drumline component of the band program, as Ken appreciated and accommodated the diverse musical cultures and tastes of his students. He was a modern-day Pied Piper figure, delighting many a distracted student with his goofy sound effects, slapstick physical comedy, and seasonal attire like the ensemble of kelly green suit, tie, and shirt with shamrock pin that he wore on decades' worth of St. Patrick's days. Beneath that joking surface was his generous heart and belief that every child had the right to study music, as he provided countless complimentary instruments, lessons, and repair services to deserving children and families over the course of his life. In his retirement from the Newburgh schools, Ken taught music at Leptondale Christian Academy, Goshen Christian School, and Chapel Field Christian High School.
In addition to his work as an educator, Ken was an accomplished performer as first trombonist in the Hudson Valley Philharmonic Orchestra from 1967 to 1997; in that role he shared the stage with such musicians as Morton Gould, Bob Hope, Pete Seeger, Dave Brubeck, and Gerry Mulligan. He also supported his family by supplementing his teacher's and musician's income with ownership of two businesses; The Stove Store from 1976-1981, and Key Music instrument sales and repair from 1997 - 2015. He was listed in Who's Who In The East, Who's Who In Entertainment, and Who's Who in American Education.
Ken was a confirmed bachelor subsisting on RC Cola, bread dipped in spaghetti sauce, and sandwiches from Sam's on Lake Street, until meeting the love of his life Lynn Earle, a fellow Newburgh music educator who married Ken in 1973, saving him from certain malnutrition.
Together with Lynn, Ken raised and embarrassed two children, Keira Sickinger Brown (Nathan Brown) of Tariffville CT, and Erik Sickinger of Ridgefield NJ. "Bana" enjoyed his two grandsons, Franklin Edwin Brown and Bentley Kenneth Brown of Tariffville CT. Ken's family owned and resided in the circa 1828 round, stone house on Powdermill Drive in Newburgh (the "Jake Decker house") before moving to Washingtonville and finally settling permanently in the Town of Newburgh. Ken was an active member of Leptondale Bible Church where he and Lynn were married, directing the church's concert band ensemble for many years. He served communities around the Hudson Valley by coordinating marching bands to perform in town parades, and shared his musical talent as a recent member of the Pine Bush Band and the Orange County Community College Band.
In addition to his wife, children, and grandchildren, Ken is survived by his stepmother, Patricia Sickinger of Sebring, FL, sister, Carole Kassouf (Larry) of Bradenton, FL, and brother, Gregory Sickinger (Lynn) of Jacksonville, FL. He was preceded in death by his father, Rudolph Sickinger, and mother, Blanche Schilgen Sickinger.
Ken's family expresses special thanks and appreciation to Tom and Micky from Hospice of Orange and Sullivan Counties, for their assistance in taking care of Ken's needs and comfort during his last months.
The community is invited to join Ken's family for a memorial service and celebration of life to be held on Saturday, January 30 at 3 p.m. at Leptondale Bible Church, 1771 Route 300, Newburgh, NY.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Kenneth Sickinger Service Award at Newburgh Enlarged City School District, attn: Joe McKinstrie, Newburgh Board of Education, 124 Grand Street, Newburgh, NY 12550.