Pat Farenga, The Singing Undertaker, Dies at 89
Pasquale (Pat) Salvatore Farenga, of the Farenga Bros. Funeral Home in the Bronx and a long-time resident of Tuckahoe, NY, died on Nov. 5 from complications arising from strokes and other illnesses. Pat is survived by his wife, Kay (nee Cribbs), son Patrick and his wife Deborah (Day), and three grandchildren: Lauren, Alison, and Audrey. His sons Philip and Stephen died in July 2019 and January 2020 respectively. Pat was born in Manhattan on November 8, 1930 to Salvatore and Emma Farenga. He was a proud alumnus of St. Bonaventure University, graduating in 1954, then entering the army for the Korean War. He met his wife, Kay, also a service member, while on the same base. They married and lived in the Bronx, where Pat worked as part of the third generation in the family funeral business.Pat was an active member of the Bronx community throughout the 1960s to 1990s. He was a member and officer in many civic organizations including Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions, and Knights of Columbus. He organized a relief effort for Italian earthquake victims, and raised funds for multiple sclerosis, pediatric Lyme disease, and other causes. In recognition for his service to his community Pat received the Bronx County Outstanding Citizen Award in 1974, and was named "A Daily Point of Light" by President George Bush in 2004. Gregarious, quick to crack a joke, and extroverted, Pat didn't fit the mold of the conventional funeral director. When he turned 60 he decided to stop being a mortician and start being a musician. A self-taught crooner influenced by Frank Sinatra and Perry Como, Pat dove headfirst into his singing career. He opened shows for comedians Pat Cooper and Alan King, was interviewed and performed on TV and radio (where he was promoted as "the singing undertaker"), and he recorded an album, The Time is Now. He also performed the title song in the TV version of Mary Higgins Clarke's Moonlight Becomes You.
In an interview with the Florida Sun-Sentinel, Pat said earning money from his singing career was not the motivator for him. "Sometimes money takes a back seat to contentment" he says. "This is something that's been imbedded in me for years. I just wanted to try it before I die. And maybe it's an example to people to just take a bite out of life and try." Friends may call on Sunday from 4PM to 8PM at Sinatra Memorial Home, Inc., 499 Yonkers Ave., Yonkers, NY. The funeral mass will be Monday at 10:00 at St. Ann's Church, 854 Midland Ave, Yonkers. Entombment will be at Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale.