Donald B. Adcock

June 24, 1925May 11, 2011

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,, or the Nature Conservancy, 4705 University Drive, Suite 290, Durham, N.C. 27707.


Donald B. Adcock

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Will Barbee

May 31, 2011

I was at NC State when Don arrived i 1960.
He was always enthusiastic, working to get the bands better and us student players better.
He introduced me to other instruments (my original one was trombone), such as the contrabass clarinet.
I still remember those days as a very happy time.
Thanks, Don.

L. G. Veasey

May 24, 2011

It's been nearly seventy years now, but I still remember the intentness with which Don practiced the flute -- this at an age when most boys were still playing cowboy or cops and robbers.

Hueston Hobbs

May 24, 2011

I would like to convey my condolences to Don's family. I would also express, as well, my own sorrow at his passing. I knew Don for four years while I attended college at N.C. State. For many students, being in college and away from home was a challenging time. The band was "home" for many of us, and only years later did I come to understand how much energy, time, and imagination Don put into the programs in which we all participated. His efforts gave us purpose ("You're late!") and focus (Try to keep're behind the beat!"). I am glad that he allowed me to play saxophone in the band because it kept me out of R.O.T.C. Yes, his standards were high, which prompted him one day to gently advise me not to pursue a career in music. For that, I remain extremely grateful.

Carol Hill

May 23, 2011

The statement from the News and Observer article: "He was both friendly and fun to be around but he was extremely principled and very strict," Narmour said. "He had very high standards.
He didn't let you get away with anything." says it all when it comes to Don Adcock. Those years I spent in the marching band in the late 70's/early80's were some of the most memorable of my life...and to think that I tried out on whim. You knew to NEVER be late, but never wanted to be, anyway. Back then, the band was a sort of a scrappy group of mostly non-music major material, but he got the best out of all of us, and made us want to be the best. I also went on the tours of the high schools during the spring semester with the Symphonic band. You had to love his banter between songs.

I remember once during rehearsal, he grabbed a flute and proceeded to jam along with a Lalo Schifrin tune. What a treat.

I am sad to hear of his passing, but glad to be reminded of those days. Our world now has a empty place now that will never be filled.

Alex Holmes

May 23, 2011

The interesting articles about Don's life fail to mention his brief stop as band director at Farmville High School in Farmville, Virginia. Although he did not inspire me to be a professional musician he was certainly one of the most colorful and memorable teachers that any of us ever experienced. My prayers and best wishes to Betty and his family.

Paul Webb

May 23, 2011

Don was my flute teacher and friend. My wife Alice and I loved him so much. Betty, we love you too and consider you family. The most painful thing for us is to be so far away at this sad time. I wish I had some of your gift as a Poet, but I doubt that there are any words that can comfort - only the knowledge that you are loved and that others are sharing your sorrow. Betty we love you and wish you comfort and peace.

Love Paul and Alice.

Jasmine Black

May 22, 2011

Dear family of Donald,
I recently read about the loss of Donald. Please know tha ti am terribly sorry to hear about your loss. And to show my sympathy, i would like to share with you all a scripture here at Rev.21:4:"He will wipe every tear from their eyes...ande death will be no more. The former things have passed away." I really hope that you guys find comfort in this scripture.

Julie Mitchell

May 21, 2011

I have not seen Don and Betty Adcock for many years . When I first moved to Raleigh, Betty was one of my first clients, and Don always brought Betty to most of her hair appointments. My heart goes out to Betty and her family. Rest in peace Don.

Alice Webb

May 21, 2011

Don was a dear friend of ours, and we miss him greatly. Before we moved away from NC, we spent many years sharing jokes, music, coffee, and conversation with Don. He was always a joy to be around, and our lives are better for having known him.

Tom Hawkins

May 21, 2011

In memory and admiration of Don Adcock, jazz flutist extraordinaire, reader, thinker, teacher, billiards player, joke collector, and iconoclast. May his flute riffs long echo in the halls of time.