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Roger Wonson, a World War II veteran from Massachusetts, celebrated his 100th birthday with a concert for his family and friends, highlighting the important role music has played in his life. Wonson, a drummer and saxophone player, shared that music has taught him how to listen and feel, shaping him into the person he is today. He recalled being introduced to music at a young age through a player saxophone in the 1920s, which sparked his musical career at the age of five when he became known as “Rudy Vallée Junior.”

Wonson’s passion for music continued to grow as he learned to play the drums and was inspired by big band music during his childhood in Essex, Massachusetts. He enlisted in the Army Air Force during World War II, where he served as a communications officer, focusing on electronics and engineering. After the war, he pursued a career in engineering, working at Raytheon for 40 years and witnessing the digital revolution unfold. Throughout his career, music remained a constant as he played in an 18-piece swing band for 25 years after retiring.

Music has been a significant part of Wonson’s life, bringing joy and connection to those around him. He shared that playing music, whether in a big or small venue, is a win-win situation that brings happiness and fun to both the performer and the audience. He emphasized the importance of listening and being careful with words, as they have a lasting impact on others. Wonson’s positive outlook on life, combined with his love for music, has been a source of inspiration for those around him.

In recognition of his dedication to music for nearly a century, the Avedis Zildjian Company gifted Wonson a commemorative cymbal, symbolizing his lifelong commitment to the art of music. Craigie Zildjian, executive chair of Avedis Zildjian, praised Wonson for his ability to connect with others through music and expressed gratitude for being part of his journey. Wonson believes that music is a universal language that resonates with everyone, triggering memories and emotions that may not be accessible through other means.

As Wonson reflected on his life and the role of music in shaping his experiences, he shared his secrets to longevity, emphasizing the importance of reducing stress and maintaining a positive mindset. His commitment to communication and empathy, both in music and in personal interactions, has been a guiding principle throughout his life. By sharing his love for music with the community, Wonson continues to inspire others and spread joy through his performances. His story serves as a testament to the power of music in bringing people together and creating lasting memories.

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