On January 9, 2022, Donald P. Raff, 80, of Bel Air, MD passed away peacefully at the Senator Bob Hooper Hospice House. The son of Raymond and Mildred Raff of Collingswood, NJ, Don was born in Philadelphia, PA. Don earned his bachelor’s degree in music education from West Chester (PA) University and became the band and chorus director at North Caroline High School in Ridgely, MD. After seven years he moved on to a similar position at Smyrna High School in Smyrna, DE. During his four years at Smyrna he earned his master’s degree in secondary school administration from the University of Delaware. While teaching, Don arranged numerous musical pieces for his marching bands and small instrumental ensembles. His first extended work, for concert band, was a set of variations on “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” for the Smyrna band, a piece he later transcribed for the Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra.
In 1974, Don became an assistant principal in Harford County and served in four high schools and two middle schools during the next twenty-five years. While serving at C. Milton Wright High School in Bel Air, Don came to know Scott Sharnetzka and Sheldon Bair. In 1984, Sheldon recruited Don to play bass trombone in the Susquehanna Symphony. Subsequently, Don arranged or transcribed thirteen pieces for the orchestra. The orchestra performed one of these, “Christmas Lullabies,” in 2007. In 2008, Don transcribed this piece for concert band, and it was performed by the Bel Air Community Band under the direction of Scott Sharnetzka. Don was perhaps most proud of his original composition, “Suite Six – Miniatures for the Grandchildren,” that he wrote for chamber orchestra. He directed a chamber orchestra of SSO members performing the premiere of this piece with his grandchildren in attendance in April 2016.
He is survived by his wife, Carolyn Raff; his sons, Jeffrey Raff (Eileen) and Stephen Raff (Tracy); his stepdaughter, Nicole Rosenzweig (Jason); his six grandchildren, Chelsea Raff, Thomas Raff, Michael Raff, Marshall Raff, Cayman Raff, and Abigail Rosenzweig; his brother, Robert Raff (Pat); his former spouse, Dorothy Raff; and a number of nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews.
The family will receive friends at the Evans Life Celebration Home – Bel Air, 3 Newport Drive, Forest Hill, MD 21050 on Friday, January 14, 2022 at 1:00 PM. Services will follow at 2:00 PM. Internment will occur at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra, P.O. Box 963, Abingdon, MD 21009 (www.ssorchestra.org) or to the Harford County Retired School Personnel Association Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 133, Churchville, MD 21028.