Kenneth Witmer, was operatic, lyric baritoneServices for...


March 05, 1992

Kenneth Witmer, was operatic, lyric baritone

Services for Kenneth D. Witmer, an operatic and lyric baritone who taught and performed in the Baltimore area for the past decade, will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Robert A. Harris Funeral Home in Coatesville, Pa.

Mr. Witmer, 34, had lived since May in Downington, Pa. He died Tuesday at Brandywine Hospital in Coatesville of congestive heart failure.

Born and reared there, he received his undergraduate degree from Muhlenburg College in Pennsylvania and his master's in vocal performance in 1981 from the Peabody Institute in Baltimore.

Mr. Witmer remained in the area for the next decade, studying voice with Todd Duncan in Washington and performing with the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, the Annapolis Chorale, the Harford Choral Society, Pro Musica Rara, the Laurel Oratorio Society and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

His professional credits included principal roles in "Madame Butterfly," "Rigoletto" and "Tosca" with the Baltimore Opera Co., and roles with the Annapolis Opera, the Wolf Trap Opera, Harford Opera, Operetta Renaissance and the Young Victorian Theater Co.

He was a prizewinner in both Baltimore Music Club and Jewish Community Center vocal competitions, and was a Metropolitan Opera regional semifinalist.

He also sang for the Har Sinai Synagogue and the Christian Science church on University Parkway, was a singer with and founding member of the Baltimore-based musical groups All of the Above and Christmas Quartet, and belonged to the American Guild of Musical Artists.

Mr. Witmer had a studio in Baltimore's Hampden section, where he taught voice to local singers.

While here, he also worked as a word processing supervisor at Survey Research Associates on Falls Road, where he was head of questionnaire and forms design.

Survivors include his mother, Marybelle Reiter Witmer of Downington; a brother, Kirk H. Witmer, and a sister, Karen Caporale, both of Coatesville; his maternal grandmother, Gail O. Reiter of Parksburg, Pa.; a niece; and several nephews.

The family suggested memorial donations to the Olivet United Methodist Church, Third Avenue and Chestnut Street, Coatesville 19320, where Mr. Witmer was a member and formerly sang in youth choirs.

Vincent J. Assing

Josephite priest

A Mass of Christian burial for the Rev. Vincent J. Assing, S.S.J., who served St. Pius V Church at Schroeder Street and Edmondson Avenue on four different occasions, will be offered at 11 a.m. today at St. Joseph Manor, the retirement home of the Society of St. Joseph at 911 W. Lake Ave.

Father Assing, 89, who had lived at the manor 20 years, died there Sunday after an apparent heart attack.

At his retirement in 1972, he had been chaplain since 1961 of St. Frances Academy of the Oblate Sisters of Providence on East Chase Street.

He was stationed at St. Pius V in 1932 and 1933, from 1935 to 1937, again from 1945 to 1951 and finally from 1954 to 1961.

Father Assing was pastor of the Church of the Epiphany in Washington from 1937 to 1943, of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Washington in 1943 and 1944 and of St. Catherine of Siena Church in Donaldsonville, La., in 1944 and 1945.

Other parishes that Father Assing served were St. Peter Claver and St. Francis Xavier in Baltimore and Holy Redeemer in Washington.

A native of New York City and son of a policeman, he was educated at the Jesuit high school there and at the high school at Brooklyn College. He worked as a clerk in an insurance office in New York before beginning his studies in 1922 at a Josephite minor seminary in Baltimore.

He continued his studies in the order's seminary program, first at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore and then in Washington, where he was ordained in 1932.

He is survived by several cousins.

Services for Harry D. LaBonte Jr., a retired field supervisor in the Baltimore office of the state Department of Assessments and Taxation and a musician who directed bands for fraternal groups, will be held at 11 a.m. today at the Leonard J. Ruck Funeral Home, 5305 Harford Road.

Mr. LaBonte, who was 71, died Sunday of cancer at his home on White Avenue.

He retired in 1985 after 20 years' service with the state and with Baltimore city, where he began working as a weights and measures inspector.

Earlier, he had worked for feed and grain companies, including George F. Obrecht and Sons, the Baltimore Feed and Grain Co. and the Farmers Fertilizer and Feed Co., for which he managed a Taneytown store.

A former master of the Composite Lodge of the Masons and a member of the Scottish Rite, he served as bandmaster for Boumi Temple and band director for the Baltimore Forest of the Tall Cedars of Lebanon. A baritone horn player, he also had been a member of the Yedz Grotto Band.

He had been president of the Tall Cedars Luncheon Club and a member of the Middle River, Rosedale and Dundalk Square clubs, the Ashlar Association and the Boumi Immediate Benefit Association.

The Baltimore native was a 1939 graduate of City College.

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