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Ronald Richards, co-founder of Amherst Symphony Orchestra

June 5, 1930 – March 10, 2015

Ronald Richards, an oboist and founding member of the Amherst Symphony Orchestra, died Tuesday of complications from a fall. He was 84.

Mr. Richards, of Amherst, was born in Buffalo in a music-loving home and discovered his passion for music, and the oboe, at an early age. At 15, he was a founding member of the Amherst Symphony Orchestra and, except for two years while in the Army and two years as a guest oboist with the Beersheva Symphony in Israel, he performed with the Amherst Symphony Orchestra for 69 years.

At age 16, Mr. Richards became an oboist with the Buffalo Philharmonic, one of the youngest musicians to ever play in that orchestra. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and a master’s in music from the University at Buffalo, where he went on to teach oboe for more than 40 years.

In the mid-1980s, Mr. Richards formed the Buried Treasures Ensemble, a chamber music group that performed works by composers whose work had been lost over the centuries and whose works he discovered, edited and published.

Mr. Richards played for more than 15 years at the Missouri Symphony Chamber Orchestra summer festival. He also played with orchestras in Niagara Falls and St. Catharines, Ont., for many years.

Mr. Richards taught hundreds of elementary and high school students to play the oboe over six decades. Many of his students have gone on to professional music careers and often spoke of his influence, not just in playing the oboe, but in teaching music, philosophy and life.

Survivors include a daughter, Debbie Lahav; two sons, Michael and Daniel; six grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and his special friend, Marcia Wright.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday in the Mesnekoff Funeral Home, 8630 Transit Road, East Amherst.

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