Leah LaBelle Vladowski ’07 of Seattle, WA, and her husband, former NBA player Rasual Butler, died in a car crash on January 31. Vladowski was 31. She was an r&b artist known as Leah LaBelle and an American Idol finalist who went on to work with various artists in the music industry.
Berklee trustee emerita Rhoda Sapers of Boston, MA, passed away on February 4. The daughter of Fred Berman, the founding chair of the Berklee Brass Department, Sapers was 85. She joined Berklee’s Board of Trustees in 2001 and served on the board for nine years. She served as chair for the Encore Gala twice and established an endowed scholarship for brass students in her father’s name. She leaves her husband, Bill Sapers, two sons, a daughter, and five grandchildren.
Paul Whitbeck ’67 of Delmar, NJ, died on April 24. He was 73. Whitbeck earned his bachelor’s degree at Berklee and did master’s work at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. He worked for a time as a studio musician in New York and toured the country with his band. He later settled in Delmar and spent most of his career employed by the Albany City School District as a music teacher where he was the band director. He leaves two daughters and four grandchildren.
Gerald James Giunta ’67 of Clearwater, FL, died on April 9 after a long illness. He was 73. Giunta attended Berklee and later earned his undergraduate degree from Ohio State University. He worked for a time as a school teacher and was later employed in a variety of occupations. He leaves his companion, Victoria Koresi, and two daughters.
Darryl Eaton ’68 of Milton, Ontario, Canada, passed away on April 9. He was 77. Eaton earned his Berklee degree in composition and a degree in trumpet performance from the University of Western Ontario. He played with Royal Canadian Air Force bands and with the big bands of Buddy Rich, Stan Kenton, and Phil Nimmons. He later enjoyed a long career as a secondary school music educator. He leaves his wife, Anita, two sons, two daughters, and three grandchildren.
Chaya Tinterow of Houston, TX, died on April 28 after a long struggle with depression. He was 61. A pianist, Tinterow was the son of violinist Bobby Tinterow and was a popular entertainer working in piano bars in the Houston area throughout his career.
Grammy Award–winning record producer, engineer, and saxophonist Rick Depofi ’81 died on February 6 at his home in New York City after a two-year battle with brain cancer. With his business partners Craig Bishop and John Leventhal, DePofi produced and arranged music at his recording studio, New York Noise, with such artists as Rosanne Cash, Marc Cohn, and Shawn Colvin. DePofi was instrumental in saving the historic Power Station recording studio (also known as Avatar) by making connections that linked the studio, Berklee, and the City of New York. It is now known as Power Station BerkleeNYC. A Berklee today profile of DePofi can be found at /www.berklee.edu/berklee-today/spring-2018/career-retrospective. He is survived by his wife, Kristin, a sister, and two brothers.