While mentioned only as one of many accomplisments in this obituary, Dr. Raney was an active researcher in the area of civil war band music, and played and traveled for more than 20 years with the 5th Alabama Infantry Regimental Band. The Band has researched and revived a large variety of mid 19th century pieces, performs throughout the Deep South, and for a number of Civil War Preservation Trust events.
Band practice was a common event in homes in my neighborhood, until a noise ordinance (designed to quieten student parties in our historic district near campus) also resulted in numerous pillars of the community with trumpets and drums being in danger of going to the pokey for violating the ordinance sound levels.
From today's Tuscaloosa News:
Donald Clarence Raney
TUSCALOOSA Donald Clarence Raney, age 75, of Tuscaloosa, died peacefully on Thursday, November 27, 2008, from complications related to Parkinson's disease. A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. Monday, at Calvary Baptist Church, with Rev. Joe Gordon and Rev. Joseph Robinson officiating and Magnolia Chapel Funeral Home South directing. Burial will follow in Evergreen City Cemetery, with his son Rev. Donald Clarence Raney, II, officiating a brief graveside service. Visitation will be at the church at 9:30 a.m. until the time of the service.
Don leaves behind his loving wife and constant companion of 43 years, Mary Myrick Raney; three sons, Donald Clarence, II (Robin) of Petersburg, Tex., Arthur Austin (Laura Arpan) of Tallahassee, Fla., Russell Wilson (Paige) of Cullman; six grandchildren, Katie, Joseph, Austin, Reed, Will, and Josh; and one brother, Doug (Ruth) of Huntsville.
He was preceded in death by his father and mother, Clarence and Mamie Raney of Bessemer; father- and mother-in-law, Otto and Zona Myrick of Russellville; and infant sister Peggy.
Don (born May 6, 1933) answered to many names over the years. To his childhood friends in the small mining community in Eastern Kentucky where he was reared, he was the barefoot country boy and star lineman best known as "the Capito Kid." To Air Force cadets stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany in the late 1950s, he was "Second Lieutenant Raney," later "Captain Raney" to his fellow reservists.
For 30 years, engineering students on the Capstone knew him as "Dr. Raney." After completing a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Kentucky, a M.S. degree in mechanical engineering at Auburn University, and a Ph.D. in engineering mechanics at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (now Virginia Tech), Don joined the engineering faculty at the University of Alabama with an unwavering commitment to excellence in teaching and research. At the time of his retirement in 1994, he served the College of Engineering as Department Chair of Mechanical Engineering and was among a small number of professors at the University holding the prestigious title of Research Professor. In 1996, he also received the Department's Distinguished Fellow Award. As a scholar, he was a pioneer in the study of fluid dynamics and the computerized modeling of water systems. He was the author of more than 100 academic publications and technical reports, and served as a lead investigator on more than $1 million of funded research contracts and grants. In addition to the student careers he helped launch from within the classrooms of Hardaway Hall, his applied research projects improved the lives of those from shrimpers and oystermen in Apalachicola, Florida, to inland harbor residents of Cooks Inlet, Alaska.
For a generation of junior high boys at Calvary Baptist Church, he was "Coach," the tough-love mastermind behind a Royal Ambassador basketball dynasty of the late 1970s and 1980s. For the generation of 2-year-olds who followed, he was "Mr. Don," the teddy bear Sunday school teacher with a tireless knee for playing horsy and a strong shoulder for drying tears. For the thousands who attended the annual Tuscaloosa Easter Pageant in the late 1980s, he was one of the magi who visited the Christ Child. For fellow deacons at Calvary, members of the 5th Alabama Infantry Regiment Band, and the faithful Rec Center racquetball crew with whom he played daily for decades, he was simply "Don." And to his loving family, as soon as the first grandchild was born, he was and will forevermore be "Pop."
In retrospect, though, Don's life was remarkably and beautifully simple: faith, honor, love, hard work, and charity. So, his legacy is not to be found in the names that you heard him called but in the countless acts of charity and goodwill few of us saw him complete. It is found in his steadfast support of senior engineering student projects designed to make the lives of others better, like the feeding device enabling a paraplegic child to actually choose which food to eat. It is in the numerous Calvary youth group members who received "scholarships" he silently funded allowing them to participate in mission trips across the U.S. It is in the dozens of children with disabilities in Hale County who received a personal visit and mountains of presents from "Santa."
On several recent occasions, Don reminisced that his parents-who financially supported many impoverished, post-Depression coal-mining families-were "the most generous people he ever knew." They clearly taught him well. To those of us who knew him best and loved him so dearly, we now pay him the same compliment: He was the most generous man we have ever known.
Pallbearers will be his friends and colleagues Bob Evans, Dr. Sam Gaskins, Dr. Sam Gambrell, Dr. Gene Carden, Corky Odom, Rodney Truelove, Dr. Howard Wilson, all of Tuscaloosa, and Jonathan Robinson of Birmingham.
In that spirit, the family respectfully requests that, in lieu of flowers, all gifts please be sent to the Hospice of West Alabama, which made his final days so peaceful, to the Capstone Engineering Society, or for Parkinson's research.
Finally, the family extends it deepest and most sincere gratitude to Dr. James Ramsey Saxon for his years of advice, care giving, compassion, and friendship to Don.