Ralph Schecter (1893-1980)

Ralph Schecter, c.1945

Ralph Schecter was born on September 28, 1893 in Riola, Illinois, and attended public schools in nearby Danville. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1916. Following service with the American Expeditionary Force in France as an engineer and conductor of the 243rd Engineers Band, he studied conducting in London under Sir Henry Wood. He taught English at various mid-western high schools before coming to Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania as an instructor in English in 1922.

James Henry Morgan, president of the College, appointed Schecter to be the director of music and the director of the orchestra and band. Serving under six presidents, he was a versatile faculty member teaching music and public speaking as well as English.

He was largely responsible for the institution of the music department. Many students involved with the band and orchestra were unskilled in their instruments and it was often up to Schecter to teach them how to play. Every school day for more then twenty-five years, Schecter conducted his ensemble in two new pieces at daily chapel, a total of almost 10,000 pieces without a single repetition. He also arranged some of his own music. In 1958, Schecter became the Thomas Beaver Chair of Literature and three years later was granted emeritus status upon retirement. He was one of the earliest recipients of the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award in 1961.

Schecter was a member of the Second Presbyterian Church of Carlisle, the local Elks Club, and the Masonic Order. He married Rheasa Madden, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Illinois University in 1922. They had three sons and a daughter, two of whom survived them; their daughter, Katherine, was a Dickinson graduate of the class of 1956. Ralph Schecter died on December 7, 1980. He was eighty-seven years old.

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Dickinson College Archives
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