From The Berkshire Edge on June 9, 2021:
Donald Barron passed away on June 5 in Lenox, at age 91, from COPD, a degenerative pulmonary disease similar to emphysema. Although he hadn’t smoked a cigarette in over 50 years, the condition gradually decreased his stamina and narrowed the scope of his activities, but with adjustments Donald continued to do what he loved, always keeping his dedication to family, friends, and music.
Donald was born in 1930 to parents Theodore and Julia, who as children separately immigrated to the U.S. from Ukraine, then a part of the Russian Empire. Donald enjoyed growing up in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. Both parents were hard-working, first-generation Americans who ran a successful dry cleaning business and provided a good life for Donald and his younger sister Eleanor, who passed away in 1953.
As a teenager, influenced by an older cousin who was a student at the time, and an uncle who had graduated years before, he decided to attend the prestigious Stuyvesant High School in lower Manhattan. This decision impacted the remainder of his life. While at Stuyvesant, Donald learned to play the oboe. He said years later that the oboe was one instrument he could have on loan for free because it wasn’t in demand. Donald and the oboe were a perfect match. During his two-year tour of duty in the U.S. Army, Donald played in the 324th Army Band stationed at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. While he never played professionally, through the years he played in many amateur orchestras and symphonic bands. From his high school days into college, the Army, and beyond, the oboe gave Don a lifelong social outlet and many, many hours of artistic pleasure.
After briefly considering a musical career, Donald made the decision to go into education, and teaching became his lifelong vocation. He taught elementary school and special education for over 40 years, as well as working as an administrator, at schools in New York City and on Long Island, where he also raised his family.
After retirement, Donald and his wife Barbara embarked on a three-year adventure, living full-time in an RV (motor home) in which they traveled back and forth across the U.S., visiting almost every state and parts of Canada, creating wonderful memories. After selling their motor home, they set out to live half the year in Berkshire County, first in Otis and then Lenox, and the late fall and winter in Delray Beach, Florida. Donald immersed himself in the local orchestra scene in both places, playing for the Eagles Band, the Stockbridge Sinfonia, and other community ensembles. In recent years, he was a patient and cheerful mentor to young oboists in the Intergenerational Orchestra of South Florida. He continued playing after developing COPD, until the condition made it impossible for him to keep up with the demands of playing in a group. He kept up his routine into his 90s, practicing at home almost every day.
Another post-retirement hobby that gave Donald a sense of pride and accomplishment was genealogy. He dug deep into family history, uncovering hard-to-find records and photos, and organizing annual reunions so extended family could gather, catch up, and learn new details about their roots. He was extremely proud of Ruben Zelig Baran, the first member of his family to immigrate to this country from Ukraine in 1892.
Donald is survived by his wife Barbara; his three children, Nancy, Ruth, and Steven; their spouses, Jeff Ommundsen and Bernadette Brauns Barron; and granddaughters, Shion Takeuchi and Brooke Barron.
Donald has requested no gifts of flowers, but please donate in his name to a charity of your choice. In addition, he requests that you please vote in all elections, which he thought was the best way to keep our democracy strong. He loved our country.