Michael Komesaruk, 86, an Air Force violinist for nearly three decades and a musician in the Washington area for even longer, died of prostate cancer Oct. 5 at his home in Annapolis.
Mr. Komesaruk, who had lived in Riverdale from 1951 to 1987, before moving to Annapolis, was born in Philadelphia to Russian immigrants. His father was a dockworker who encouraged his son at an early age to be a violinist.
He finished high school in Philadelphia, worked odd jobs for a few years, had a stint in the Army Reserve, and continued with his music. In 1945, he joined the New Orleans Symphony.
In 1946, a musician friend from Philadelphia told him about music opportunities in the military, and Mr. Komesaruk enlisted. After basic training, he was assigned to Bolling Air Force Base, home of the United States Air Force Band, which had been created in 1941. Over the years, he was first violinist for a variety of musical groups within the band, including the symphony orchestra, the string orchestra and an ensemble called Strolling Strings.
As an Air Force musician, he played in venues around the world. He also played at the White House for every president from Harry S. Truman to Bill Clinton, including a private performance upstairs at the White House for President John F. Kennedy and the first lady.
In 1960, Mr. Komesaruk began playing with Strolling Strings Associates, a civilian counterpart of the Air Force group that includes many past and present Air Force musicians. Rose Marie Coppola, the founder of the group, said that Mr. Komesaruk was her indispensable all-purpose coordinator for performances at weddings, receptions and such special events as the grand opening of Union Station.
Until a few months ago, he was playing with the group Friday and Saturday nights at the Fort Myer Officers Club. Befitting his Russian heritage, the theme from "Dr. Zhivago" was a perennial favorite among Officers Club diners. Mr. Komesaruk enjoyed playing Russian classical pieces, as well.
"The kids couldn't keep up with him," Mrs. Coppola said. "You'd have 25-year-old musicians needing an intermission, and he'd still be going strong."
He also taught violin privately and prepared students for the Prince George's County Youth Orchestra.
Mr. Komesaruk's wife, Mary H. Komesaruk, died in 2002.
Survivors include a daughter, Diane Pinkos of Pittsburgh; a brother; a sister; and two grandchildren.