Saturday, June 6, 2009

Robert T. Ralston 1926-2009

Bob Ralston, Director Emeritus of the Chemical City Band passed away on Friday June 5th following a brief illness. Bob was director of the band from 1980-2002, and was a friend and mentor to many, many musicians in the Midland community. He came to Midland in 1973 to succeed Larry Guenther as Coordinator of Music for Midland Public Schools (Mr. Guenther had also been director of the Chemical City Band from 1955-1979). After his retirement from MPS in 1989, he co-founded the Midland Community Orchestra, which he directed until 2007. Bob had also been a long time member of the local Kiwanis Club, the First United Methodist Church, and the french horn section in the Midland Symphony Orchestra.

On a personal note, Bob was a professional and personal mentor to me. He was the "gentleman's gentleman", a consummate teacher, and one of the kindest men I have even known. One does not take Bob's place in any role (and in my case, I've followed him with the Chemical City Band, as well as followed in his shoes as MPS Coordinator of Music); one does their best to follow his example and to carry his work into the next generation.  That has been and will continue to be my desire with the band, as well as my in work with MPS. 

In honor of Bob's life and his faith, the band will be performing a special arrangement of Amazing Grace (complete with bagpipe soloist) during our opening night concert on Wednesday June 17th. One of Midland's finest educators and musicians has gone home to be with his Lord, and all of us have been blessed to have known him. 

Please keep his wife Alice in your thoughts during the weeks and months ahead. A memorial service will take place on Saturday, June 13, 2009, at First United Methodist Church with the Rev. Dr. Carl Price and Rev. Dr. Brent McCumons officiating. The musical prelude will begin at 2:30 p.m. and the service will begin at 3:00 p.m. Family and friends may visit at the church on Friday, June 12, from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. and on Saturday from 2:00 until the time of the service.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial gifts be offered to the Midland Symphony Orchestra in order to endow the MSO Principal Horn Chair in Bob’s name. By contributing to the endowment, you can honor Bob in perpetuity by naming this chair in the section Bob performed with for many years. With your support, “The Robert T. Ralston Chair” will appear on the Midland Symphony Orchestra personnel page for seasons to come. Checks can be made payable to:  The Robert T. Ralston Chair – MCFTA, and sent to Midland Symphony Orchestra: 1801 W. St. Andrews Rd. Midland, MI, 48640.

No comments: