Richard W. Raleigh, 74, elementary school teacher

February 14, 2000|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

Richard Warfield Raleigh, a former Baltimore County schoolteacher, died of lung cancer Thursday, four days before he could celebrate his first Valentine's Day as a married man. He was 74.

Mr. Raleigh, a bachelor for 74 years and one month, married Virginia Shriver on Mother's Day at Fairhaven, the Sykesville nursing home where Mrs. Raleigh's mother lives.

Shortly after, Mr. Raleigh -- called "Reddy" for his orange-blond hair -- was diagnosed with cancer. He died at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

"He had wanted to marry me for a long time," Mrs. Raleigh said. "After we were married, he said he had never been happier."

Mr. Raleigh was born in Baltimore and grew up in Guilford. He attended the Gilman School until he was 18, when he left to enlist in the Marine Corps and fight in World War II. He served for three years in the South Pacific and was promoted to sergeant.

In 1946, Mr. Raleigh returned and enrolled at the University of Maryland under the GI Bill. He graduated from the university in 1950.

For the next several years, he was "finding himself," said his wife. He held a number of jobs, including installing heavy machinery.

He then earned his teaching degree at what is now Towson University and, in 1965, was hired as a sixth-grade teacher at Bear Creek Elementary in Dundalk. He stayed at Bear Creek until he retired 20 years later.

In addition to teaching at the elementary school, Mr. Raleigh also coached wrestling and tutored sick children at their homes and hospital rooms.

He devoted his life to his pupils and several close friends, his wife said, instead of starting a family of his own. He often would take poetry to school and read it to his classes.

"When he hit on the teaching it was him. He loved information and helping the kids develop," Mrs. Raleigh said. "You find that when you're teaching, the students are enough to fulfill your need for children."

Mr. and Mrs. Raleigh had known each other for years, but met again in 1990 at her former husband's funeral. The courtship lasted nine years.

"He has this boyish quality, just like a gentle giant," Mrs. Raleigh said. "He was tall and broad-chested and had a smile with golden eyelashes and a twinkling eye."

In addition to teaching, Mr. Raleigh enjoyed singing with his wife at home and in a barbershop quartet. He was an avid Ravens and Orioles fan. During the summers, he would spend time at Ocean City.

Plans are being made for a memorial service.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two nephews; and two grandnephews.

His family asks that donations be made to the Gilman School or Maryland Public Television.

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