Donald Smith age 95 died peacefully in his sleep on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at Sunnyside Retirement Home. He was born in Buffalo, New York on June 27, 1918 the youngest of five sons of George D. Smith and Lucinda Rowe Smith. He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers and his beloved wife Inez Elaine Gaskins Smith.
He is survived by two children, Dr. D. Craig Smith of Harrisonburg, VA (Sue) and daughter Cindy Smith of Earlysville, VA.; two grandchildren, Kristin Jones (Tim) of Charlottesville, VA and Craig Smith (Suzanne) of Harrisonburg, VA., and five great grandchildren, Clyde, Naomi, and Vera Jones and Rylan and Cora Smith.
Don was the son of a bandmaster for the Salvation Army in Buffalo, New York. His musical training on the cornet began under his father's tutelage when he was eight years old. He played with the band for twelve years. They performed on street corners, in the corps or citadel church and occasionally, in prisons. When he was eleven years old Donald was one of the soloists selected to play in the National Congress of Salvation Army Bands in the Metropolitan Opera House. While an elementary student and again in high school, Donald was the trumpet soloist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1936 he graduated from East High School with a major emphasis in music.In that same year he graduated from the newly formed Preparatory Department of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester.
He graduated from the Eastman School of Music, B.M. in Public School Music (1940) and the University of Michigan, M.M. in Music Education (1944). Throughout the years he pursued studies at Christiansen Choral School, Westminster Choir College, Waring Music Workshop, North Carolina Choral Workshops, University of North Carolina, and East Carolina University.
Donald remained with his first teaching position for twenty four years serving as the Director of the Music Department at New Bern High School in North Carolina. In 1964 he arrived in Virginia to teach at Frederick College as an Associate Professor of Music. He served the last thirteen years of his career as Chairman of the Music Department of Tidewater Community College on the Frederick campus.
He has served as the Choral Section Chairman of the National Interscholastic Music Activities Commission, Southern Division and was the Virginia State Chairman of Adult and Continuing Education, MENC. During retirement he supervised student teachers at James Madison University.
During his tenure in North Carolina Don was elected president of the North Carolina Choral Association, president of the New Bern Rotary Club, and was named "Tar Heel of the Week" by the Raleigh News and Observer. He was organizer and conductor of the New Bern Choral Society and later in Virginia he was organizer and conductor of the Civic Choral Society in Portsmouth.
He has composed and arranged music.Four piano pieces and four anthems for choir have been published by Willis Music Co., Doxology Music, Broadman Press, and the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptists Convention.
For twenty five years he has volunteered at Rockingham Memorial Hospital. His mind and spirit have truly been rewarded by concerts, recitals, church activities, and singing in the church choir.
If asked to comment on his early training and experiences playing in his father's band, he would say, "The foundation for my musical and spiritual heritage was laid at that time. For this I am most thankful. Most of the music I wrote during retirement years was based on the hymns that I heard and played often as a child."
The funeral will be held at First Presbyterian Church on Court square at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 7, 2013. A reception will follow at the church. Following the service, the body will be cremated and entombed at East Lawn Mausoleum. The family will receive friends at Kyger Funeral Home in Harrisonburg on Friday, September 6, 2013 from 6:00 to 8:00. Friends may also call at the home of Craig and Sue Smith, 594 South Main Street, Harrisonburg.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Hahn Cancer Center, J.M.U. School of Music, or the Salvation Army.
He was truly a man of faith, family, music and service.