FAIRPORT, N.Y. (WROC) — Pete DuPre, a World War II veteran known as “Harmonica Pete” for playing the National Anthem at sporting events across the country and around the world, died Tuesday. His family made the announcement on Facebook. DuPre was 98 years old.
Funeral arrangements have not been set.
DuPre served as an army medic during World War II, then came home, went to work, and raised a family. For 80 plus years he’s played his beloved harmonica.
In June of 2020, Dupre told News 8 that he started playing the harmonica when he was a kid and participated in the school harmonica band when he was ten years old. Back then, he said it was a way to make friends, not knowing then that he would touch and inspire people, musicians, and veterans across the world.
He made performances at the National Anthem at Madison Square Garden for the NBA’s Hoops for Troops night, and other sportings events. But perhaps his biggest claim to fame was his performance ahead of a US Women’s World Cup soccer match that solidified his reputation as “Harmonica Pete.”
DuPre was even a Nashville Recording Artist. The Greatest Generations Foundation flew him from his home in Fairport to Nashville, Tennessee, less than 10 years ago. At Paragon Studios Pete recorded more than 40 songs on his harmonica. The entire trip was a surprise, arranged by benefactors who’d heard Pete play on memorial trips for World War II veterans.