Robert H. Novack, lifelong band leader, musician and entertainer, loved to bring smiles to people’s faces. Through his music, his love of life, and his good cheer, he brought good feelings and good times to thousands of people. Novack, who was affectionately known as the “Ambassador of Surfside” on account of his efforts to spread good will throughout his community, died Friday at age 76. He had been a vital participant at Surfside community meetings and events for many years. His son Paul is now serving as the Mayor of the beautiful oceanfront town. His wife, Mickey, served as the town’s Vice Mayor in the 1980s. As a young man growing up in Boston, Bob Novack rapidly earned a reputation as a fine musician. His first public performance came when he was only eight years old. At eleven, Novack began studies at the New England Conservatory while he was still attending grade school. He later embarked upon a musical career that led him throughout the United States. While serving in the armed services, Novack played piano with the Army Air Corps Band led by the legendary Glen Miller. While in that band; Novack wrote an original march which he dedicated to General Weaver of the Corps. For decades, Novack was an enormously popular band pianist and band leader in Boston, New York, and South Florida; He played with a number of notable orchestras and bands including those led by Dick Jurgens, Vaughn Monroe, Bob Crosby, Ray McKinley, Bobby Hacket and Hank Freeman. He played in coast to coast broadcasts of music and entertainment during the 1950s. In Florida, Novack led bands and orchestras at public and private functions, conventions, parties and major events. In 1959, Novack’s orchestra played for President Dwight D. Eisenhower on Miami Beach. Novack’s bands continued playing for the enjoyment of the South Florida community during four decades of making South Florida his home. His bands performed at all of the areas finest hotels, resorts, and country clubs. He was also an accomplished teacher, having created a unique method of teaching young people the skills of playing the piano. He will be missed by all who knew him, and all who had the opportunity of hearing his music.
(Original article appeared on November 6, 1996)