Dennis McCafferty


Dennis Anderson McCafferty died unexpectedly at Ellis Hospital on December 6, 2021. He was 71 years old. He deeply loved his intimate soul mate Diane Flynn, and she him. Even though we say “he leaves behind” in these types of announcements, their connection is unending and continues on as it began when they both realized, “Oh, there you are.” They shared a deep undeniable connection which neither expected and continued to grow in countless unexpected ways.

Dennis was the son of Dr. William McCafferty and Jane McCafferty, of Niskayuna, who both preceded him in death. Dr. McCafferty was a distinguished local physician, and the Chief of Anesthesiology at Albany Medical Center. Dennis was also preceded in death by his beloved brother, Jim.

Dennis made his primary mark in the world as a very skilled and eclectic musician, performer, and composer. He played a vast range of instruments, including piano, guitar, drums, and vibraphone. He was well-known in the Albany area for his performances at local cafes, restaurants and clubs. But his musical skills also ran deeply into the classical domain. He was a prodigious composer, and his works—particularly a fine symphonic piece named “Empire in Decline”—have been performed by local groups including the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra. Apparently unafraid to investigate any musical genre, Dennis also composed a full-length opera, as well as the soundtrack for a movie—“The Insignificant Other.”

Dennis’s friends and family took great joy in watching his musical career develop. They recall that before returning to the Capital District, Dennis had quite a notable career as a musician in New York City. One friend recalls that he had a “dedicated following of upper west side types of that day” as the songwriter/lead singer/guitarist of the band called The Ushers. They remember that the music he composed for the group was “dark, blunt, and concise”—and often flavored with “a wry sense of humor.” At one point in his career, Dennis toured Europe with the group La Mama.

Diane loved Dennis’s recounting of his recognition that he must become a drummer after seeing his first fife and drum corps, apparently around the age of 3 or 4 years old. After seeing the band, he begged his parents to let him learn the drums immediately, but school protocol insisted that he wait until he was 6 years old to begin studies. When he did finally get his first drum set, he “took off like lightning” and eventually became a very talented and sought-after drummer.

Later in life, Dennis found deep satisfaction in teaching music to kids, and taught around the area at various primary and secondary schools, where he was much in demand. The kids adored him, and he them. They could feel that he took great satisfaction in their accomplishments.

Dennis was an extremely well-educated, and even erudite man. He boasted a B.A. from the University of New Hampshire, and a B.S. in music from Skidmore College in Saratoga. He also studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston, as well as the Manhattan School of Music. In addition, he studied privately with a whole range of master musicians, several of whom became important mentors for him, especially the noted composers Nils Vigland, and Max Lifchitz.

Though music was always “at the top of the list,” friends remember many other sides of Dennis. He was a quietly devout man, a privately religious man, who deeply valued and studied his Catholic faith. He was known for a deeply intuitive wisdom and spirituality which seemed to infuse everything he did. He had a natural kindness and sweetness. At the same time, his friends and family always mention his sense of humor, which has variously been called “hilarious, creative, insightful, surprising, wise, dry, and deep.”

Dennis adored family. He especially loved big family get togethers “back in the day” at his parents’ big, beautiful home in Niskayuna, with his close cousins Darcy and Holly and various other cherished family members. He loved ski trips at the family’s cabin at Stowe, and summers at the lake. He took his family’s Scottish connections seriously, and he and his brother Jim savored their annual trip to the Scottish Games—wearing the Anderson clan’s tartan proudly.

Dennis McCafferty will be deeply missed. Friends and family will gather for a wake from 4 pm to 6 pm, on Monday, December 13 at the Armer Funeral Home, Inc., 39 East High Street, Ballston Spa. Facemasks will be required. A funeral mass will be celebrated at 10 am on Tuesday, December 14 at St. Anthony’s Church, 331 Seward Place, Schenectady. Burial will follow in Ballston Spa Village Cemetery, Garrett Road, Ballston Spa.

Guest Book

Gaby Ford

Through Luigi Attardi I met Dennis in Rome. Luigi encouraged us collaborate on a theatre project I was doing. Without even asking anything, Dennis listened, watched and threw himself in to bring unforeseen and unexpected elements to light. I remember them both always chuckling to themselves.
Sending love and gratitude from Italy.

George W Bang

Dennis was my next-door neighbor in NYC when we were both students at Manhattan School of Music. He was kind, funny, very talented and in every way, a totally unique character. We did not stay in touch over the years, but Dennis will always be part of my formative years in NYC. RIP brother.

Stephen Cope

My Dear Diane: It was through you that I came to know and adore Dennis over the past five years or
so. What a sweet, soulful, fun, devout, and talented human being he was. The love, admiration and respect
I see in these wonderful messages tells me even more about Dennis, and makes me wish I had
spent more time with him, getting to know him and plumbing those beautiful depths. Diane, in grief,
you are clearly surrounded by a great extended family of love for you and for Dennis. As your friend,
I find this a real consolation. Love you, Stephen

Kevin Gavitt

Oh come, Angel band.
Come and around me stand.
Bear me away on your snow white wings,
To my immortal home.
Bear me away on your snow white wings,
To my immortal home.

The gain to Heaven's band is, unfortunately, our loss.

Jeanne Marie

Love to you, Dennis.
Love to all who have loved you.

"Billy" Rocker

Dennis was one of the earliest driving forces that had such an impact on my life of drumming. by inspiration, drive, his effortless phenomenal technical abilities and knowing what it would mean to me to be given credit for any advance I might have accomplished- a word of praise from Dennis was worth hundreds of hours of practice - he shared what I'd come to recognize as the most valuable gift that musicians are given- the magic of coming together and finding you're 'in the pocket ' and in that place all the hours the band has worked towards that moment are paid with the voice of your instrument hitting those pure notes of the love and especially JOY! Thank you forever Dennis for your love and your comedy and for 'once in awhile ' - - rest- in syncopation- br

Thom Cipriano

Rest in peace my friend, you will always be with me.

Glenn L.

Dennis, my compadre, my mentor, my brother in arms.. you will be sorely missed.. see you in time.

Jade Tupper

Really talented guy. I can't really say we were more than classmates but I always thought he was a cool dude. Rest in Peace. Family, sorry for your loss.

David J. Kavanaugh

For many years I served as Dennis’s drummer. Now, I realize that’s somewhat akin to bringing coal to Newcastle. But, there it is. For this freed up Dennis to play guitar and vibraphone, as well as fronting the band. During my introduction to the Ushers (Dennis’s band), I had only three days to learn the material. This would have been a bugger, except that I was dealing with Dennis, you see? Dennis was blessed with gifts galore, including his gift as a teacher. There is a marked difference between my abilities when I first entered his band (Dennis used to say ‘Let them breathe!’, as to my approach to striking the drum head) and my abilities today (I never officially left the band, as a matter of fact, Dennis was considering doing a ‘reboot’). Farewell to, both my friend and mentor! I will miss being able to pick up the phone and call him. And I will miss YOU, dear Friend. Like Hal Blaine, may you rest on the ‘two and four’. Godspeed! Dear friend.

Scott Miner

I remember him as a drummer in high school, "Beaky" was indeed very talented. Reading this obit, Dennis was so much more! See you on the other side old friend...

Jackie Citriniti

Dear Diane;
I am so sorry to hear of Dennis’s sudden passing! I cannot imagine the shock and grief you must be feeling! Know that I am sending love and light to you and if there’s anything I can do, please let me know. Hugs!

Keith Warren

Dennis was a wonderful guy ! He will be missed very much.
I truly admired Dennis for his musical abilities. He was a fine composer.
His "Real Book" open Jam at Authur's Market was great fun for all .
Dennis was kind and caring and I enjoyed his company very much.
His composition " Surf Symphony" was excellent.
Dennis is now waiting in the wings to come on stage and perform with "The Great Band in the Sky" along with all the other great musicians who came before him.
BROVO Dennis! Keep WAILING on.

Sue Heath Mincher

Friends since 7th grade! I will miss Dennis. He was fun and creative. Glad I got to talk to him before he passed away. God bless.

Diane Curtis

Dennis was one of the kindest kids I knew from our days at Van Antwerp through NHS… at a time when so many of us were not yet developmentally capable yet of such kindness. He was a gift. My heart breaks for his passing… way too soon!

Joe Quinlan

Loved ya, Dennis! Still do!

Theresa Erickson

We may lose someone in the physical form. But love never dies... Praying for all of the people who were fortunate enough to enjoy and cherish this talented gentleman. May beautiful memories of Dennis be of some comfort to you during this painfully sad time.

Maryrita Dobiel

Dear Diane, My sincerest condolences on your loss. I was so lucky to know Dennis, and have you to thank for meeting him. The love you shared was obvious when seeing you together. I will miss him. Love, Maryrita

Debra Corcoran

Rest In Peace Dennis.

Karyn Stevens

Dennis was a wonderfully fun young man in high school. Talented, kind, funny and a good friend. So sad to hear of his passing.

Kathleen Stewart

You will be sooooo missed Dennis