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Pete DuPre, World War II veteran known for playing his harmonica, dies at 98

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2019
                                World War II veteran Pete DuPre plays the national anthem on his harmonica prior to an international friendly soccer match between the United States and the Mexicoin Harrison, N.J. DuPre, who served as a medic in the 114th General Hospital Unit and known for playing the harmonica at community events, has died.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2019

    World War II veteran Pete DuPre plays the national anthem on his harmonica prior to an international friendly soccer match between the United States and the Mexicoin Harrison, N.J. DuPre, who served as a medic in the 114th General Hospital Unit and known for playing the harmonica at community events, has died.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2019
                                World War II veteran Pete Dupre, 96, plays the national anthem on his harmonica before NBA basketball game between the New York Knicks and the Cleveland Cavaliers in New York. DuPre, who served as a medic in the 114th General Hospital Unit and known for playing the harmonica at community events, has died.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2019

    World War II veteran Pete Dupre, 96, plays the national anthem on his harmonica before NBA basketball game between the New York Knicks and the Cleveland Cavaliers in New York. DuPre, who served as a medic in the 114th General Hospital Unit and known for playing the harmonica at community events, has died.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. >> Pete DuPre, a WWII veteran known for playing the harmonica at community events, died Tuesday at 98, according to his family.

DuPre, of Fairport, was a medic in the 114th General Hospital Unit and became a beloved figure in the Rochester region, remembered for his decency and his renditions of the national anthem and “America the Beautiful,” the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported.

WROC-TV anchor Maureen McGuire interviewed “Harmonica Pete,” multiple times and counted him as a friend.

“The thing about Pete was that his life story was so epic but he thought everyone had an epic story,” McGuire told the newspaper.

DuPre traveled as an ambassador for the Greatest Generations Foundation, which collects, records and shares the experiences of veterans. He played at the 74th and 75th anniversary commemorations of the attack on Pearl Harbor at the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii.

“I think it’s neat. I’m part ham, I love to tell stories and I have no trouble saying yes,” DuPre told the newspaper in 2019 when he started being invited to play at the opening of sporting events.

A video of his playing the national anthem at a U.S. women’s national soccer team match in New Jersey in 2019 garnered 3.6 million views on Twitter. The team wrote Wednesday that they were saddened at the news of DuPre’s death, in a statement posted to Twitter.

“To know Pete was to love him, and his service, support and friendship meant the world. Our thoughts and hearts go out to his family,” the statement said.

In 2016, DuPre went to Nashville to record an album of pop hits played on his harmonica, the newspaper reported.

A native of Ogdensburg, DuPre graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology and then worked at Bausch + Lomb, a Rochester-area firm that focuses on health care for eyes and vision.

DuPre’s wife of 70 years, Jane, died in 2014 at age 90, the newspaper reported. His daughter, Mary Ann DuPre, wrote in a Facebook post that her father died peacefully with his son, Mike, by his side.

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