Patrick E. Tracey was a brilliant musician, a talent that led to his career as a telephone systems analyst.
His music study began at Cardinal Hayes high school in the Bronx, NY where his prodigious musical ability was nurtured. Upon graduating high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was assigned to the Navy band. His mastery of jazz complexities was applied to his analysis of the most direct route to move phone calls from one area code to another or the best rate to charge for long-distance calls. He retired from ATT but never gave up music.
Mr. Tracey, 95, of Bergenfield, passed away Saturday, Jan. 28. He volunteered for the U.S. Navy at the age of 17, during World War II that connected his music and engineering paths. Because of his advanced aural skills, he was recruited to become a sonar operator on a wooden minesweeping ship. Navy tests showed such musicians had a talent for engineering, sending him to engineering school. There, his skills converged.
Away from work, Mr. Tracey was adept at playing many wind instruments—clarinet, bassoon, alto, and tenor saxophone, whatever was needed—and he favored the saxophone and jazz. For 30 years, he supported a nearby high school as a woodwind specialist with the Paramus HS Scholarship Show pit orchestra. Out of the orchestra pit, he was a benefactor of the Ridgefield Memorial High School music program. His free time was spent in jam sessions. His joy and passion were his family and making music.
Into his 90s, he devoted two weeks of every summer studying at the Jamey Aebersold Jazz Camp in Lexington, Kentucky, taught by master jazz musicians from around the world. As the elder statesman of the camp, he was a fixture, and somewhat of a celebrity.
Until a year ago, he played his sax daily and played up a storm. He not only played music, but he sang as well. Starting in 1968 he performed as a lead in the Teaneck Blue Chip Barbershop Chorus. The day before Mr. Tracey passed, 15 fellow barbershop singers gathered at his home to serenade him and offer toasts accompanied by Irish whiskey and scotch for the sharp- witted second-generation Irish-American. Musician friends adored him.
Mr. Tracey’s wife of 49 years, Kathleen Theresa Tracey, who passed away in 2002, was the love of his life. He regularly showered her with flowers. She would soothe his brow after a hard day’s work. They danced and embraced in the kitchen.
You could see the love they shared in the way they looked at each other.
Mr. Tracey was a member of the Cresskill Knights of Columbus St. Therese Council 7647. St. Jude was the couple’s patron saint, thus the middle name of their six children. Four children passed before Mr. Tracey: Jeanne Judith Tracey, Patrick Jude Tracey, Brian Jude Tracey, and Mark Edward Jude Tracey. Mr. Tracey’s survivors include two sons, Daniel Jude Tracey, and Matthew Sean Jude Tracey, and one grandson, Sean Mark Tracey.
Visitation for Mr. Tracey is Friday, February 3rd, 4-8 p.m. at Riewerts Memorial Home, 187 S. Washington Ave., Bergenfield. The funeral mass is 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 29 N. Washington Ave., Bergenfield. Burial will be at St. Rose of Lima Cemetery in Freehold, NJ. Condolences may be made at riewertsmemorialhome.com.