HomeObituariesJoseph (“Joe”) D. Ragno, age 86

Joseph (“Joe”) D. Ragno, age 86

 Joseph (“Joe”) D. Ragno, age 86, of Baneberry, TN, and formerly of West Windsor, NJ, passed away peacefully, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, at Jefferson City TN Health and Rehabilitation Center. Preceded in death by parents Sante I. Ragno and Angelina Ragno and sister Sandra R. Murray, Joe is survived by his wife of 55 years, Nancy (Nickell) Ragno, daughter Michelle Marsh, and grandchildren Sean Marsh and Kelly Marsh.
Joe grew up in Berwick, PA, and served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War. He earned a B.A. degree from Lebanon Valley College (Annville, PA) with majors in music education and political science and an M.A. from Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ).
He taught both vocal and instrumental music in schools in central New Jersey and New York before becoming Orchestra Director and teacher of music theory and appreciation at Westfield, NJ, High School, where he taught for 16 years. In Westfield, he developed the orchestra to full symphonic size with complete instrumentation and formed a second, “training” orchestra. The orchestra played original scores of major symphonic works—not transcriptions for students. Thus, students learned the “literature”, and several of Joe’s students play in major symphony orchestras. Joe was also an adjunct professor of music education at Douglass University, New Brunswick, N.J.
On retiring from teaching, Joe started The Violin Shop in Princeton, NJ, where he repaired string instruments and taught violin. Joe’s father had also been a high-school music teacher, and Joe grew up learning to play whatever instrument was missing from his father’s orchestra that year. His major instruments were the French horn, viola, violin, and string bass. He played principal French horn in the NJ All-State H.S. Orchestra, played in the viola section in the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, and violin in numerous community orchestras. He also had an outstanding singing voice and while in high school studied in NYC with vocal coach Adele Vassa. He was a crooner in the style of Frank Sinatra and was on his way to a singing career until the advent of Rock and Roll changed the music market. While in college, Joe sang in clubs around Allentown, PA, and was part of the Ted Blu Quartet, where he sang and played bass. Joe loved classical music as well as jazz. He was also a talented composer and wrote both vocal arrangements and full-orchestral scores. His Master’s Degree thesis was a composition for full orchestra which was performed by the university orchestra.
While living in New Jersey, Joe enjoyed escaping on weekends to the Chesapeake, where he kept a boat. He also loved golf. During retirement he lived on a golf course in Jupiter, Florida, and played every day possible. Joe was witty and had a quick sense of humor and way with words. His smile would light up a room. He will be sorely missed by his family, friends, and by the hundreds of students whose lives he touched and influenced.
 In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Jefferson County Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 261, Dandridge TN 37725 or the American Diabetes Association. The family will receive friends 6:00-7:00 P.M., Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016 at the Farrar Funeral Home, 162 E. Meeting St., Dandridge, TN 37725.

- Advertisment -

Stay Connected