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Thomas Joseph Cifani
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Obituary for Thomas Joseph Cifani

"2/7/1936 – 12/17/2017"

Waynesville, Thomas Joseph Cifani, 81, passed away on Sunday, December 17, 2017 at Memorial Mission Hospital.

Tom was the only child of Licario and Marie Chiavaroli Cifani, both of whom died during his childhood. He was raised by his maternal grandparents in Hornell and Schenectady, New York. Tom attended college in New York at Hartwick College and Potsdam University. After graduating, he performed as an oboist with the Syracuse and Utica symphonies and started a long teaching career as a middle school band director, beginning in New Hartford, New York. Tom moved to the Chicago area to get a Masters of Music Performance degree at Northwestern University, where he studied oboe under Ray Still and Grover Schiltz, of the Chicago Symphony. Tom spent the next 40 years as a freelance musician, playing occasionally with the Chicago Symphony and Chicago Lyric Opera. He played regularly for Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theater, and other ballet companies that came through Chicago. Tom played many shows, including Fiddler on the Roof, Phantom of the Opera, and Les Miserables and was a member of the Chicago Pops Orchestra. He taught band at Sunset Ridge Middle School in Winnetka, Illinois and at Martin Luther King Jr. Laboratory School in Evanston, Illinois.

Tom and his wife of 38 years moved to Waynesville, North Carolina in 2005 where they quickly became active with the Haywood Community Band, conducting and playing clarinet with that group for several years. He was also a founding member of the Mountain Winds, a band in Cullowhee.

Tom is survived by his wife, Sarah Bartlett Cifani; his sons Tony (Nancy) and Christopher Cifani; and one grandson, Sam Cifani.

Services will be held in Evanston, Illinois at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 20, 2018 at the Levy Center, 300 Dodge Avenue. A reception will be held after a short service. Services in North Carolina will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 3, 2018 at the First Presbyterian Church of Waynesville with Pastor Holly Davis presiding. A reception will be held following the service at the church.

The care of Mr. Cifani has been entrusted to Wells Funeral Homes and an online memorial register is available at “Obituaries” at

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1:00 PM
First Presbyterian Church of Waynesville

305 North Main Street
Waynesville, NC 28786


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