IN MEMORY OF DONNA DEE RAY
ATG lost one of its most ardent members with the passing of Donna Dee Ray! She was excited by the accordion and music from a very young age as a child who napped in her brother’s accordion case while he took his accordion lessons. By the age of 6, however, she was beginning her own formal lessons and soon prepared to take her first Syllabus Examination with Anthony Galla-Rini as the Examiner in Kansas City, MO where she studied first with Cecil Cochran and then very quickly with Joan Cochran. Donna Dee never lost her love of learning. She played oboe, she danced, she sang and, oh my, did she play that accordion! She won both the little and the most important accordion competitions and Bill Palmer awarded her a grade of way over a 100 when she played his Variations on a Theme by Paganini. Donna Dee was performing professionally as a young child of 10 or so and even traveling with an adult group of musicians whose leader took her under her wings to protect while touring in the summers. She served a period of time as Concert Master of the UMKC Accordion Orchestra, then came back later to be its conductor during the summer of 1969 while Joan and her college students were on a USO Tour in Germany.
The year ATG had its first large Festival in Orlando, Donna Dee prepared a Bell Choir, a Children’s Chorus, and an outstanding young vocalist to perform with the ATG Festival Orchestra in the Walt Disney Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. She had her students trained perfectly and when added to the many accordions, it was an awesome show which participants will never forget. In addition, Donna Dee actually presented a Workshop using Power Point, which was a First for ATG.
Later she became actively involved in ATG while serving on its many different committees and holding various offices in the organization. For many years both she and her husband, Dennis, performed during the ATG Festivals as a duo. They also worked tirelessly during the events and Donna Dee was already planning to play in the ATG Orchestras in 2022. Even though she was facing health issues she continued to be actively involved in ATG. Her enthusiasm for teaching young people was always apparent and never wavered! She was always smiling and vivacious in everything she did. Everything she did throughout her life had to be the very best she could do, whether it was playing with Dennis, or teaching her classroom students, or working on behalf of ATG.
ATG will miss Donna Dee Ray! She will be remembered long after leaving us so unexpectedly.
Written by Donna Dee’s friend and mentor, Joan Cochran Sommers.
We have set up a Memorial Fund in honor of Donna. As soon as details are ready, you will hear more about the intended use of those funds. Donna Dee Ray was a music educator, accordionist, and accordion teacher. Her Memorial Fund will in some way honor that legacy. Please click here to offer your donation and commemorate our friend and colleague, Donna Dee Ray.