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Robert J. Raynor of Freeport dies at 79; civic-minded musician served the community for decades

Robert J. Raynor, 79, of Freeport, died September

Robert J. Raynor, 79, of Freeport, died September 13, 2014 at Freeport Hospital. Credit: Hungerford Clark Funeral Home

Robert J. Raynor, a musician, glass craftsman and veteran from Freeport, died Sept. 13 in South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside after heart failure due to a stroke. He was 79.

Raynor was born in Freeport and graduated from Freeport High School in 1953. He studied music, specializing in brass, at The Music School at Fredonia and Ithaca, New York.

"He was a uniqueness and wonder of the world," said Jeanne (Maxwell) Raynor of Merrick, his wife of 54 years.

Raynor was a direct descendant of Edward Raynor, one of Long Island's first settlers, in the area of Raynor South, later called Raynortown and, in 1853, renamed Freeport.

Starting at age 10, Raynor worked at Raynor's Glass Works, his family store in Freeport, where he was a glazier, craftsman and salesman. He often made windows and mirrors, working with his family on and off for more than 20 years.

Beginning in the late 1950s, Raynor served in the Army and then in the Army Reserve. He was honorably discharged in the mid-1960s.

"He was a wonderful, giving person. He loved people and loved helping people," his wife said.

She and Raynor met in the late 1950s at an orchestra rehearsal in Freeport. She played violin and he played trumpet. They wed in 1960 and had four daughters.

The Raynors bought the Steinmetz Music Studio in Freeport, where they taught music and sold instruments until they closed the business in the 1970s.

Raynor was very active in the community. He served in the Freeport Historical Society and helped lead several of Freeport's anniversary celebrations.

He was one of the founders of the Freeport Landmarks Commission and served as president of COMBO (Alumni of the Freeport High School Band and Orchestra). He had been director of the Street Band Preservation Society Marching Band since 1965, was first director of the Old Bethpage Village Brass Band, and founded the Long Island Trumpet Choir at Freeport.

"Robert was always interested in people, always interested in life," his wife said.

David Schecher of St. James, who played trombone with Raynor since 1963, said he was a talented musician. "He played very well. He was very difficult to keep up with. It was like there was two people playing in the room when he played."

Raynor founded the Great South Bay Model Railroad Club in Freeport in 1980, was first president of the Raynor Family Association and was a member of the Freeport United Methodist Church. He played for many groups, including the Freeport Community Band, The Little Theatre Orchestra, and the Island Symphony Orchestra.

Services have been held.

In addition to his wife, Raynor is survived by his daughters, Carole Raynor Neidig of North Babylon, Beverly of Laurel, Maryland, Susan Licata of Jackson, New Jersey, and Judy Follo of Derry, New Hampshire; a sister, Elizabeth Mary Ploth of Merrick; a brother, John Henry of Freeport; and eight grandchildren.

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