Raymond Foster, known by many in the Xenia area as long-time leader of Xenia's high school and community band programs, died Monday after a long illness.
Ray touched the lives of countless students and
fellow musicians throughout his nearly 40-year career. He was born in Roscoe, Ohio, near the northeast Ohio city of Coshocton, where he met his high school sweetheart, future wife and lifelong companion Jacqueline (Bendure). After graduating from The Ohio State University in 1959, Ray taught music in the Cuyahoga Heights (Ohio) school district. In 1966, he and Jackie, with their two children, moved to Xenia where Ray became the Xenia High School band director, and devoted the next 21 years of his life to cultivating excellence, inclusion, and pride within the school's band ensembles. Whether a young person was a veteran member of the concert band, marching band, pep band, or jazz band, or a study hall student Ray spotted and recruited to come learn an instrument and join the band, they felt his commitment to their value both as a person and as a musician. In 1986 during Ray's final year as director, the Xenia High School marching band received a coveted Superior rating at the Ohio Music Educators' Association state-wide marching band competition.
In addition to his devotion to his music students, Ray was a devoted coach and supporter of many young men via his involvement in the Babe Ruth and American Legion youth baseball leagues in Xenia, where he coached teams for nearly a decade between 1975 and 1985.
After retiring from Xenia schools in 1987, Ray continued to create musical outlets for others to enjoy. His fondest labor of love during this period was founding the Greene County Adult Concert Band in 1988. The band provided avenues for members of the community to dust off instruments they had formerly played, join with professional and semi-professional players from the area, and rediscover the joy of performing music together. In 2012, Ray passed along his director's baton, and the band continued to thrive under the leadership of his colleagues and friends. Ray was also leader of the Nostalgia Big Band, Society Jazz Band, and Four to Go ensemble, performing at community events, weddings and ceremonies in the area, and frequently hamming it up as emcee with his unique brand of humor. In 1990, Ray was awarded a Sertoma International "Service to Mankind Award", and was inducted into the Xenia Educational Endowment Fund Hall of Honor in 2011. The value, purpose, and love of music that Ray shared with others was a great joy in his life and a gift to so many.
In his later retirement years, Ray continued to be a fierce Ohio State Buckeye fan, and was an avid golfer, boasting two holes-in-one before the end of his delightfully aggravating amateur golf adventures. One of his favorite leisure activities was sharing and listening to vintage jazz with his family.
Ray is survived by his wife Jackie, daughter Teri, son Barry, two granddaughters Jessica and Beth, three great-grandchildren, and a loving extended family.
Private funeral services are being provided by McColaugh Funeral Home and held at Faith Community United Methodist Church. A celebration of life is planned for late Spring 2021 and will be announced through print and social media outlets. All who knew Ray will be invited at that time.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Greene County Adult Concert Band by contacting www.greene-band.org, or to Faith Community United Methodist Church by contacting www.fcum.org.
Online condolences may be made to the family at www.mccolaughfuneralhome.com.