Passing Of Hawthorne Caballeros’ Ralph Silverbrand

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Ralph Silverbrand, the former Hawthorne, New Jersey, Caballeros drum major who was probably the best-known personality in the drum corps community in the 1950s and 1960s, passed away on Monday, November 7 at the age of 85. Private cremation was carried out by Ferguson Vernon Funeral Home in Vernon, New Jersey. Memorial donations to the family can be made by visiting the web site:

Ralph Silverbrand was one of the longest serving members of the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame, inducted in 1978 just two years after its founding and also a member of the Massachusetts Drum Corps Hall of Fame. He founded and directed the Hawthorne Muchachos junior drum corps. He had been a member of several drum corps choral groups, including the Castaways, Romeo and the Princemen of Massachusetts.

His wife Dorothy “Dot” Silverbrand passed away earlier this year on July 5, 2011. She also sang with the Princemen choral group and was active in the Hawthorne Caballero Drum Corps Auxiliary.

Their son Richard Silverbrand passed away in 1999. Ralph Silverbrand is survived by three daughters: Lauren Bastian, of Milford, Pennsylvania; Cherie Shortway and her husband, Harry, of Vernon; Robin Wood, of Vernon; nine grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.

During the late 1950s and 1960s, Ralph Silverbrand was a popular figure on the contest field, well-known to drum and bugle corps fans across North America. He was the Hawthorne Caballeros drum major from 1956 through 1967. During those 12 years, the Cabs won nine American Legion (AL) national championships. Between 1953 and 1966, the corps won eleven national titles. He was the only member of the corps on the field for all 11 victories. He played baritone horn when he first joined and almost quit in 1956 when corps director Jim Costello asked him to become drum major, because he didn’t think he qualified for the position.

He founded the Hawthorne Muchachos in 1959, to extend the benefits and enjoyment of drum corps activity to young people in Hawthorne and surrounding communities and to create a ready pool of talent for the Caballeros once members became too old for junior corps activities. The Muchachos wore the same basic uniform as the senior corps except for minor trim differences, and shared the instruction staff and rehearsal facilities with the Caballeros.

He was a United States Marine Corps veteran of World War II. He owned and operated Brand Way Construction in Hawthorne prior to his retirement, when he and Dot moved to Old Forge, New York in the heart of the Adirondacks. They had lived in Warwick, New York, northeast of New York City just above the New Jersey state line, for the past nine years.

For more information about the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame, including biographies of members and a listing of corps of the decade since the 1940s, visit the Web site at

Posted by on Wednesday, November 9th, 2011. Filed under Current News, DCA News, FrontPage Feature.