Hes a lot like the Energizer bunny,
Tony DiPardo is. This year, he will celebrate his 40th year with the Kansas
City Chiefs; his 60th year of marriage to his wife, Doddie; his 75th year
in the music business; and, on Aug. 15th, his 90th birthday. Like the
bunny, he just keeps going and going.
He and his family will celebrate that birthday at a gala on the evening
of the 15th that will benefit the Fox 4 Love Fund for Children and commemorate
its 20-year history as well. Most Kansas Citians are familiar with the
Love Fund, which provides essential servicesfrom school supplies
to surgeryfor children 18 and under. The Love Fund is the organization
a child in need can turn to when all other resources have been exhausted.
DiPardo knows something about having limited resources as a child. By
the time he was 15, this kid with an eighth-grade education from a big
family was playing his trumpet in the nightclubs of St. Louis to make
a living. It wasnt long before he was traveling with a band and
then, in 1939, leading a band of his own. He remembers bringing his 15-piece
orchestra in 1940 to the Muehlebach Hotels Terrace Grill, where
they were broadcast on the radio from coast to coast. It was in Kansas
City in 1941 when the 29-year-old bandleader met a 17-year-old singer
and fell in love.
Tony and Doddie soon married and eventually settled in Kansas City to
raise a family, and the rest, as they say, is history. DiPardo was already
a fixture here by the time Lamar Hunt brought the Chiefs to town in 1963
and asked him to lead the teams Zing Band. Forty years later, Hunt
is acting as the honorary chair of the upcoming gala.
The two DiPardo sons, Anthony and James, have pursued careers outside
music, but daughter Patti has followed closely in her fathers footsteps.
All will be on hand for "the old mans" birthday celebration
that will recall his Big Band days.
"Not bad," DiPardo says, "for a poor little Italian boy
from St. Louis."