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 52 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, www.theclassicalstation.org, or the Nature Conservancy, 4705 University Drive, Suite 290, Durham, N.C. 27707.