Richard Joseph Amses, a musician, composer and music educator, died at home in Rumson Dec. 15, peacefully, surrounded by his family. The cause of death was kidney failure. He was 88.
The son of Joseph and Mary Amses, Richard was born in Bayonne. He served in the U.S. Army and was a veteran of the Korean War. He attended The Juilliard School and received a Master of Music from the Manhattan School of Music. Richard was an accomplished musician and played the trumpet, flute and piano professionally, although he was best known for his distinctive style of trumpet playing. He had been a member of local 802 since 1954. In addition, he was a songwriter, lyricist, composer, arranger and joined The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) in 1966. Mr. Amses toured with many of the top big bands of the 50s and 60s, including those of Walter Nye, Doc Severinsen, Skitch Henderson, Lester Lanin and Eliot Lawrence. In New York City he often played at the popular nightclubs of the day such as the Latin Quarter, the Copa, and the Palladium.
In 1961 he moved with his family to Monmouth County where he taught music both privately and in the New Jersey public school system for over 25 years. There he became a member of the musicians’ union in Asbury Park, local 399. While teaching he continued to play trumpet professionally for prominent artists like Tony Bennett, Tony Watson, Harry Belafonte, Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney, Cab Calloway, Helen O’Connell and Johnnie Mathis.
Richard is survived by his devoted wife of 64 years Phyliss Amses. Throughout his life he filled their home with music and song during family gatherings and holidays and in between. His kindness, warmth and energy were deeply inspiring to all who knew him. He handled his last years – especially those years on dialysis – with incredible forbearance, positivity and courage. In addition to his adored wife Phyliss, he is survived by his daughter Denise (husband Christopher Cosma); his son Matthew (wife Kathryn Cordes); his sister Joan Townsend; and his grandchildren, Julian Cosma and Gabriel Cosma. He was adored and will be missed beyond measure.
There was a memorial celebration of Richard’s life at Thompson Memorial Home, Red Bank Dec. 19. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his memory to the Manhattan School of Music at msmnyc.edu/giving/ways-to-give.