Richard David Sowell Jr., 82, musician

March 03, 2004|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Richard David Sowell Jr., a musician who played trumpet and cornet in the Naval Academy Band for many years, died of cancer Monday at his Annapolis home. He was 82.

Born in Newport, R.I., and raised in the Bronx in New York, he enlisted in the Navy as a musician and graduated from the Navy School of Music in Washington. He was assigned to the USS Philadelphia and sailed on convoys to Iceland and Scotland.

In addition to his musical duties, he was a member of a gunnery crew. During World War II, he participated in troop landings at North Africa, Sicily and Toulon in southern France.

In 1946, he was assigned to the Naval Academy Band in Annapolis and performed at military, musical, athletic and social events until retiring in 1967 - the year he earned a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Maryland. He later earned a master's in education from what is now Bowie State University.

He played in such venues as Annapolis hotels, the Fleet Reserve Club and Annapolis Elks Club. For more than 30 years, he was band leader of the Naval Academy Alumni House in Annapolis. He also played trumpet at the Top Side Restaurant in Galesville.

"He played the sweetest trumpet in the world," said Catonsville band leader George Hipp, an orchestra leader for 57 years. "For tea dances and cocktail parties, there was nothing like him. He was the perfect trumpet player and was probably a favorite of many band leaders."

In addition to his musical work, he worked as a state Division of Parole and Probation agent in Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties and as a food service consultant for Arundel Lodge, where he retired in 1996.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at the John M. Taylor Funeral Chapel, 147 Duke of Gloucester St., Annapolis.

Survivors include his wife of 52 years, the former Lois Irene Grimm; a daughter, Linda Libby of Germantown; a brother, George William Sowell of Deland, Fla.; two grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

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