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Richard Sutch

Obituary for Richard Sutch

June 18, 1925 - April 13, 2018
Austin, Texas | Age 92


Richard Sutch, beloved only child of Oscar and Kathryn Sutch, died peacefully at home on April 13, 2018. When asked to describe his life he always said: "To begin with, I had a happy childhood." Born in 1925 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, he lived on the same streets and sometimes in the same houses as his loving grandparents, aunts, uncles, and school friends. Richard inherited his father's beautiful tenor voice and by age five he was sitting on his father's knees while they sang duets. Throughout his youth Richard was immersed in voice, piano, and organ lessons, school choirs, church choirs and community performances with his father. After graduation from William Penn High School he served in the Army as a chaplain's assistant. He received a letter of commendation and was promoted to Sergeant Major with the Allied occupation forces in Berlin. He studied voice and piano at the American University of Berlin and Shrivenham American University in England.

He earned his Bachelor of Music Education from Oberlin College, his Master of Music, (Voice) from Northwestern University, and his Doctorate in Music from California Coast University. His dissertation, a new edition of an 18th century French comic opera, was performed and filmed in the KLRU studios in Austin and broadcast on PBS in 1982.

Richard was a music teacher and administrator for fifty-one years in Ohio, New York, and Texas. He taught choral music in Sylvania, Ohio, Mt. Vernon, NY, and Mamaroneck/Larchmont, NY. He also held concurrent positions as church organist/choir master wherever he taught. He loved combining his high school and church choirs to perform major choral works in the community. He directed summer music theater programs at Deertrees, Maine, and later was assistant director of the Westchester Civic Opera in White Plains, NY where he often sang leading roles in their productions. Throughout his career he judged local, district, and state choral contests and was guest conductor for many choral festivals. His A.B.Davis HS choir sang in Carnegie Hall for the New York State Teachers convention, and the following year he was organist for their convention in Carnegie Hall, both thrilling experiences that he never forgot.

In 1972 Richard began his career in Austin ISD as Supervisor of Choral Music/ Music Education. He was founder and director of the first Austin Boys Choir and the first All-City High School Show Choir. In 1978 The Academy of American Educator's named Dr. Sutch as an outstanding educator in America. As the district grew he supervised additional programs including high school theater, art, and speech, and Peer Assistance and Leadership (PAL). He was very proud to be part of this mentoring program which taught young people to be sensitive, caring, and willing to help those less fortunate than themselves. One of the many great memories of his sixteen years with PAL came in 1995-96 when the middle school and senior high PALS raised thousands of dollars for Habitat For Humanity to build a house for a struggling family. A single mother and her four children received a new home that became known as The PAL House.

After his retirement, he was president of the St. David's North Austin Medical Center Auxiliary and a volunteer there for twelve years. He also sang in the Austin Lyric Opera Chorus for eight extraordinary productions. The last ten years of his life he was pianist for the monthly St. David's Episcopal Church service at Brookdale Assisted Living.

Thus he ended as he began, with music. In his words: "I was truly blessed with my long life in music and it all began singing on my father's knees when I was five years old."

Richard is survived by his wife, Ellen Legett, his son Randy, his daughter Robin and her husband, Don, his granddaughter Miranda and all the Legett family.

His memorial service will be held at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, 8134 Mesa Dr., on Saturday, May 19 at 12:00 pm. His family is deeply grateful for the loving care and support of our Hospice Austin team. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to Hospice Austin, St. Matthew's Episcopal Church or a charity of your choice.

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Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home North

3125 N Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78705
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