Donald B. Adcock
Brown-Wynne Funeral Home
200 Southeast Maynard Road
Cary, NC
Donald Brandt Adcock
June 24, 1925 - May 11, 2011
Donald Brandt Adcock died Wednesday, May 11, at Hospice of Wake County. He was 85 years old.
He loved music and literature, poetry and puns. In his younger days, he ran half-marathons; later he taught his granddaughters to play chess and identify birds. Don and his wife of 54 years, Betty, made several trips to the Greek island of Sifnos, a special place for them. And one of his favorite places to be was on a fishing pier on Topsail Island.
A child of the depression, Don was born at home in the Edgemont section of Durham in 1925, one of five children. He began playing his father's flute in the fifth grade. In high school, he and other musicians would play for tips on Saturday nights at the old City News Stand – Don used the money he earned playing music to pay his brothers to do his chores at home.
Along with many of his generation, Don left high school before commencement to join the U.S. Navy. He was assigned to the Navy School of Music in Bainbridge, Md., and after boot camp served on the USS Indiana in the Pacific. Don always remembered the day he stood on the deck of his ship on Sept. 2, 1945, as the Indiana rode at anchor with the USS Missouri. From his post he was able to witness the ceremony signifying the Japanese surrender.
After the war, he finished his high school studies and earned a bachelor's degree from East Carolina University on the GI Bill. During the Korean War, he was called back into the Navy and served on the aircraft carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Mediterranean. After he had completed his service, he got his master's degree in music education from Columbia University. He taught high school music in Deming, N.M., and Rockingham, N.C.
In 1960 he came to N.C. State University, where he directed the marching band, the symphonic band, and the jazz band for more than 22 years. He spent hours working on arrangements and sketching out formations for the band. He traveled with the band and the Wolfpack to the Liberty Bowl and the Bluebonnet Bowl, and was the first band director to bring the pep band to play at women's basketball games.
After retiring, he taught private flute lessons for many years, and his students were frequently on the roster of the all-state band. Many of his students went on to pursue music professionally.
Although Don retired from State, he never stopped cheering on the Wolfpack and in later years made sure never to miss a game. Another of his great loves in recent years was playing the "classical conundrum" on WCPE radio in the mornings. He was known as "Don inside the beltline," and he was often the caller who had the right answer to an obscure question about a composer or a piece of music. Over the years, his friendship with jazz musicians and classically trained players was a mainstay in his life.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by daughter Sylvia Adcock and son-in-law Steve Ruinsky; both of Raleigh; two grandchildren, Tai Lane and Mollie; brother Jerry Ross-Adcock and sister-in-law Rhonda, of San Diego, Calif.; special niece and nephew, Susan Taylor Caviness and Stephen Taylor, both of Durham; godson, Heath Davis-Gardner of Raleigh; and special family friend Kenyon Davenport of Cary.
A memorial service and celebration of Don's life will be held on May 29 at 2 p.m. at the Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh at 3313 Wade Ave. Memorial contributions can be made to WCPE radio,, or the Nature Conservancy, 4705 University Drive, Suite 290, Durham, N.C. 27707. Condolences may be sent to

Published by The News & Observer from May 14 to May 22, 2011.
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33 Entries
I was in the bands at NCSU in the mid to late 60s. We all really enjoyed and respected Don's leadership and personality. Some of my favorite witicisms he presented: "Play with virility, Sherrie" and "take it up an octave and leave it out." My sincere condolences to the family. Rest in Peace, Don.
Bob Vick
April 8, 2018
I was at NC State when Don arrived i 1960.
He was always enthusiastic, working to get the bands better and us student players better.
He introduced me to other instruments (my original one was trombone), such as the contrabass clarinet.
I still remember those days as a very happy time.
Thanks, Don.
Will Barbee
May 31, 2011
It's been nearly seventy years now, but I still remember the intentness with which Don practiced the flute -- this at an age when most boys were still playing cowboy or cops and robbers.
L. G. Veasey
May 24, 2011
I would like to convey my condolences to Don's family. I would also express, as well, my own sorrow at his passing. I knew Don for four years while I attended college at N.C. State. For many students, being in college and away from home was a challenging time. The band was "home" for many of us, and only years later did I come to understand how much energy, time, and imagination Don put into the programs in which we all participated. His efforts gave us purpose ("You're late!") and focus (Try to keep're behind the beat!"). I am glad that he allowed me to play saxophone in the band because it kept me out of R.O.T.C. Yes, his standards were high, which prompted him one day to gently advise me not to pursue a career in music. For that, I remain extremely grateful.
Hueston Hobbs
May 23, 2011
The statement from the News and Observer article: "He was both friendly and fun to be around but he was extremely principled and very strict," Narmour said. "He had very high standards.
He didn't let you get away with anything." says it all when it comes to Don Adcock. Those years I spent in the marching band in the late 70's/early80's were some of the most memorable of my life...and to think that I tried out on whim. You knew to NEVER be late, but never wanted to be, anyway. Back then, the band was a sort of a scrappy group of mostly non-music major material, but he got the best out of all of us, and made us want to be the best. I also went on the tours of the high schools during the spring semester with the Symphonic band. You had to love his banter between songs.

I remember once during rehearsal, he grabbed a flute and proceeded to jam along with a Lalo Schifrin tune. What a treat.

I am sad to hear of his passing, but glad to be reminded of those days. Our world now has a empty place now that will never be filled.
Carol Hill
May 23, 2011
The interesting articles about Don's life fail to mention his brief stop as band director at Farmville High School in Farmville, Virginia. Although he did not inspire me to be a professional musician he was certainly one of the most colorful and memorable teachers that any of us ever experienced. My prayers and best wishes to Betty and his family.
Alex Holmes
May 23, 2011
Don was my flute teacher and friend. My wife Alice and I loved him so much. Betty, we love you too and consider you family. The most painful thing for us is to be so far away at this sad time. I wish I had some of your gift as a Poet, but I doubt that there are any words that can comfort - only the knowledge that you are loved and that others are sharing your sorrow. Betty we love you and wish you comfort and peace.

Love Paul and Alice.
Paul Webb
May 22, 2011
Dear family of Donald,
I recently read about the loss of Donald. Please know tha ti am terribly sorry to hear about your loss. And to show my sympathy, i would like to share with you all a scripture here at Rev.21:4:"He will wipe every tear from their eyes...ande death will be no more. The former things have passed away." I really hope that you guys find comfort in this scripture.
Jasmine Black
May 22, 2011
I have not seen Don and Betty Adcock for many years . When I first moved to Raleigh, Betty was one of my first clients, and Don always brought Betty to most of her hair appointments. My heart goes out to Betty and her family. Rest in peace Don.
Julie Mitchell
May 21, 2011
Don was a dear friend of ours, and we miss him greatly. Before we moved away from NC, we spent many years sharing jokes, music, coffee, and conversation with Don. He was always a joy to be around, and our lives are better for having known him.
Alice Webb
May 21, 2011
In memory and admiration of Don Adcock, jazz flutist extraordinaire, reader, thinker, teacher, billiards player, joke collector, and iconoclast. May his flute riffs long echo in the halls of time.
Tom Hawkins
May 20, 2011
I took a class with Don way back in the late '60s. What a great class! What great enthusiasm! Sorry to hear of your loss.
May 20, 2011
I was sorry to hear about Mr Adcock's passing. He was my band director for several years in Rockingham and was responsible for my continuing interest in playing the saxophone. I was on the faculty at NC State and enjoyed hearing him and Tony Danby (Oboe) playing duets. When I was in the 11th grade, he played me a record of Al Gallodoro playing Hora Staccato. I was blown away (had I known that term then) and for the next 40 years, I looked for a copy of that recording. Finally, about 10 years ago, I found that Al Gallodoro was still alive. I took a couple of lessons from him and have continued playing saxophone. I called Mr Adcock (Sorry, it was a more formal era and I never felt comfortable calling my teachers by their first name) a couple of years ago and told him about this. He was happy to hear from me - but didn't remember the recording at all! Sometimes teachers don't realize the influence they have.
Jim Huneycutt
May 17, 2011
Mr. Adcock was my band director in Rockingham, NC He followed my mother, Theo Smith, as band director. Attached is a photo of the 1958 Rockingham High School Marching Band at the 4th Annual Lion's Fall Festival Parade in Chicago, IL. Mr. Adcock always strived for excellence both musically and marching. He and my Mom became really good friends and they both were "THE" reasons that I majored in music. I can still remember having Christmas band parties at his and Ms. Betty's home on Ricmond Road in Rockingham. My favorite memory of him was during supper at an East Carolina Summer Band Camp he became the one and only man that I have ever witnessed and heard play jazz on his flute with his ear. He loved his students, and his students in turned loved him. I am pretty sure that Mr. Adcock has already begun to form a marching, concert, jazz, and pep band, assigned parts to all, and penned a half time show with very intricate movements for his first home game for in heaven, and he'll be able to jam with the angels. We loved you Mr. Adcock. Thank you for all that you gave to so many of us. You will be greatly missed, often thought of, and never forgotten. God Bless!
Ken Smith
May 17, 2011
Ken Smith
May 17, 2011
What great memories of Mr. Adcock's influence at Rockingham High! Certainly, the likes of him will not pass our way again. Wonderful to have played in his band. And, I do remember the day he announced that he had accepted the NC State Job. Sad, but happy for him. May the Lord bless his family.
John Stanley
May 16, 2011
I was very sorry to learn of Don's passing. I was a member of the Marching Band and Symphonic Band from 1973-1977 under Don's excellent direction. He always put his students first and was a great asset to NC State. Please accept my condolences.
Mack Morrison
May 16, 2011
I was green as new grass and fresh from the edge of the Blue Ridge when I first auditioned for Don and Milton in the summer of '71. Lo and behold, they accepted me for the State band program, and I ended up playing sax in the symphonic, marching, jazz, and pep bands.

I grew up in a really small town, so Raleigh was as big and overwhelming as New York to me, but my experience in the bands gave me entry to worlds I could only imagine, and launched my first widely meandering steps into the wide world that led me to now live far from the longleaf pines and roaring hordes of Wolfpack fans. Thanks to Don, those of us in the jazz band got to meet greats like Dizzy Gillespie and to play in concert with Marian McPartland. Although he took his music seriously, his humor and choice remarks remain hallmarks to me of his life well-lived.

After I moved to Los Angeles in 1982, I hit a rough financial spot, and in an O. Henry moment, sold my sax so I could stay in California. I found some success here, along with my wife, and always intended to buy a sax again so I could see if any of my old riffs were still intact. Never happened until this May 9th, when I finally went out and picked up a good used horn to start again.

Little did I know that it would kick off a flood of memories that led me today to type Don's name into Google, only to find out he was now jamming with the celestials.

My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to the Adcock family, but I'll be playing something blue tonight just for Don.

Play on, brother...

Boyce (Bill) Miller
Boyce (Bill) Miller
May 16, 2011
Peace Don!
Michael Key RHS Band
May 16, 2011
Dear Mrs. Adcock and Sylvia, my sincere condolences to you and your extended families. Mr. Adcock was my band director at Rockingham HS...and what an influence he was to "do it right," including those intricate halftime shows. I remember being heartbroken when he left to go to State, but through the years I would look at televised games just to catch a glimpse of him during the halftime. Two additional notes for you; I babysat you, Sylvia, while your parents lived in Rockingham. My brother-in-law, Bobby Ellwanger, attended East Carolina School of Music, where he knew Mr. Adcock. Thank you so much for sharing him with us.
Mayme Williams Pryce
May 16, 2011
We are so very sorry to hear about Don's passing. He was such a fine person, and we will always have good memories of him, especially his wit and love of music. Betty, you and Sylvia and her family are in our thoughts. Tracy, Floyd and Joshua Knight
Tracy Knight
May 16, 2011
Don meant a great deal to me. An only son of a single mother, I needed a male role model in my life. Don filled that role for me for almost my entire life up to his passing. As a child, I remember him taking me so many places, to things like Wolfpack football and basketball, jazz concerts, art exhibits, donut shops. Things I thought were cool, in other words. Even in recent years, I have deeply relied on his advice, have enjoyed watching Wolfpack sports with him, have listened to much jazz and relished in the absurd. We have taken more rides to Cup a Joe and other surrounding coffee shops than I can count, to the point that when I enter these establishments, they ask where my friend is.

I will miss Don more than I can express, but will do my best to carry his optimistic, curious spirit with me as I continue to walk through life. Thanks for the memories, my good friend. I have listened to so much jazz in your honor - right now "Stardust" is playing.

I also want to send my love, which will also be expressed in person, to Don's wonderful family, people I feel lucky to know.
Heath Gardner
May 15, 2011
I am so sorry to hear of Don's passing. My father taught alongside Don at State, and I have many memories and examples of Don's creativity with the marching band and the other ensembles. He once gave me an album of Herbie Mann--I think he liked the cover (Herbie playing a flute with an owl sitting on the other end) as much as the music. All my best to Betty and Sylvia and his extended family.
Larry Bliss
May 15, 2011
I share your sorrow, as I too lost my Donald long ago, and share your joy in his rich life and your long years together.
Ann Deagon
May 15, 2011
There are certain people in your life that you never forget ... Mr. Adcock is one of those people for me. After having private flute lessons from him in high school, I went on to play flute under his direction at NCSU in the Marching and Symphonic Bands in the 70's ... memories I will always cherish.
Fay (Thomas) Babcock
May 14, 2011
Family of Donald Adcock:

We were sorry to read of Mr. Adcock's passing in the paper. What a life! He brought us much joy at the NC State football games including the aforementioned bowl games. What better legacy than to go through life making music for the enjoyment of others. We think the Celestial Choir was a great new addition. Lastly, thank you for his service to our Country!! Would have liked to hear him describe the surrender signing aboard the USS Missouri. May God Be With You in Your Grief!!

Jack & Marsha Wilson, Raleigh, NC 27604
May 14, 2011
I'm so sorry to hear of Don's passing. My condolences to you all.
Beth Browne
May 14, 2011
A brief tribute to Don on the Jazz Loft Project site.
Sam Stephenson
May 14, 2011
May 14, 2011
Dear Sylvia,
I don't know if you remember me. We were friends as kids and I have never forgotten how much fun it was spending time at your house. You and your parents were so much fun, and I loved your dog, Tequila. Your mom was always concerned when I came over because we laughed so much that you might have an asthma attack. Remember the "waving family" in the car next to us on the way to the beach? We really laughed about that! I still have a picture of you playing your oboe and think back on the good times whenever I see it. I know you have lots of great memories like these to keep your Dad forever in your heart.
With deepest sympathy,
Laurie Shankle McDaniel
Laurie McDaniel
May 14, 2011
Outside of my parents, Don was the first deeply influential adult in my life. He was the reason I pursued the flute and, when I switched to poetry, the man who put me in contact with Betty and her world. He could scat with the best of them, told the greatest stories, as well as the worst jokes. I love and will miss him.
Heidi Czerwiec
May 14, 2011
I was also one of Don's band students at NCSU from 78-82, and had the opportunity to play in a woodwind quintet with him while there (I was a bassoonist who played bass drum in the marching band and pep band). I loved the man - not much more I can say.
Karl Zorowski
May 13, 2011
I was one of Don's NC State band students in the 1970's. He was an exceptional instructor as well as a talented musician. His personality and charm were the main reasons that many of us continued with Band after our High School days. We shall all miss him greatly. Tom Avery, NC State '75, Gastonia NC
Tom Avery
May 13, 2011
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