Obituary — Ted Cole, ‘Effortlessly Beautiful’ Clarinetist, Humanitarian

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Ted Cole

It is with deep sadness that the family of Ted Cole announces that Ted passed away in the Palliative Care Unit of Mount Sinai Hospital on November 22, 2017 after an acute battle with advanced heart failure and chronic restrictive cardiomyopathy.

Ted was a master classical clarinetist, graduating from the Peabody Institute (Johns Hopkins) in 1976 and then studying at The Cleveland Institute in 1977.  In high school he began studying with renowned clarinet teacher Leon Russionoff of NYC. For many years, he studied with Franklin Cohen principal clarinetist of the Cleveland Orchestra.  He was the Principal Clarinetist in the Orquestra Sinfonica del Estado de Mexico from 1977-1983. He returned to the U.S. and freelanced for orchestras in the tri-state area for many years.

Ted developed a second career as a computer software developer, analyst, IT Director and Data Architect and worked for non profits such as Parlimentarians Global Action, Planned Parenthood of NYC (1988-2000) and in the last 17 years at Young Adult Institute (YAI) in New York.

Ted and his wife Lorraine moved to Maplewood, New Jersey with their then 18-month-old daughter Sonya in 1997. While in Maplewood, Ted was actively involved in community organizations. Most notably he served on the Grants Committee and later as president of the Achieve Foundation, an organization that provides funds to support innovative programs for teachers and students in the public school district of South Orange and Maplewood, NJ.

During the same time, he continued to play clarinet with a variety of chamber groups and orchestras including the New Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra in NY. He also found a musical home at St. George’s Church in Maplewood where he performed with other classical musicians playing for chorales, musicals and a concert series. He is described by other musicians in this community as having had “a unique sound which was pure and ‘effortlessly beautiful.’  Another hallmark was his beautiful phrasing — “every phrase sounded so organic and natural, surely the ONLY way it could be played! That’s a superlative musician. I remember hearing him play just a simple ritard at the end of a piece and being amazed at its finesse — perfectly executed and so satisfying. He had an incredible encyclopedic musical knowledge, evidence of a deep passion and commitment to his art. And, of course, he was very modest about it all.”

Ted was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey to parents Archer and Jeanette Cole in 1953 and grew up in Roselle, New Jersey making lifelong friends and developing his commitment to community, the arts and education and integration in the schools.

Ted is survived by his wife of 30 years, Lorraine, and his beloved daughter Sonya Cole; his brothers and their wives: Hank Cole (Claudia Raskin) of Croom, Maryland, Fred Cole (Ellen Levine) of Highland Park, New Jersey, and Steve Cole (Pat Stahl) of Chicago, Illinois; his beloved nieces and nephews Rachael Cole, Matthew Cole, Sam Cole, Shanna Cole, Genya Cole and Lou Cole; and his grand nephews and grand nieces Alex Van Grunsven, Jackson, June and Claire Cole, and Arrie Cole.

Thanks to those who have given to the Maplewood-South Orange’s education foundation, Achieve, in Ted’s memory. Ted’s wife Lorraine writes, “I wanted to let friends who gave a general donation, or are wondering how to designate a gift, know that we’re planning to fund a grant to support a teacher who will use the money for professional development in the area of music education. We’ll share more specifics soon. In the meantime, any undesignated funds given in Ted’s name will be earmarked for this grant. Elise Howard,, is helping me work with Achieve and will be happy to answer any questions about the project.”

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