Warren Marshall Raymond, 58, horticulturist and rock drummer

February 08, 2005|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Warren Marshall Raymond, a Columbia Association horticulturist and former drummer in several area bands, died of cancer Sunday at his Columbia home. He was 58.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Regester Avenue in Idlewylde, he was a 1964 graduate of Towson High School. He attended what was then Catonsville Community College.

Mr. Raymond began playing drums at age 9 and worked his way into performing with the Towson-based RaVons, and the Jetsons, which featured 1960s soul tunes.

Friends said he answered a newspaper ad that read "drummer wanted." He became a full-time musician and played for nearly 15 years with the Koffee Beans, house band at the old Lantern in Irvington, Judge's in Waverly and the Mardi Gras in Hamilton in the late 1960s and 1970s. The group played original songs and cover versions of Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones.

"Warren was a rock-steady drummer who could be depended on to deliver a solid beat," said fellow Koffee Beans member and friend, Jimmy Mays. "He was also a good vocalist and was known for his excellent harmony work. It was a golden era for rock music."

With other band members, he cut two singles, "Been a Long Time Now" in 1969 and "Orange-Colored Penguin" a year later, on the Format label and recorded at the old Bradley Studios on Howard Street. The songs were played on local radio stations, and Mr. Raymond and his group appeared on the Kirby Scott television show. The pressings sold out, but the band members made no money from the recordings.

"He was attentive to his dress and hair. He had an orange brocade Nehru jacket and later wore a leather vest," Mr. Mays said.

After moving to Columbia in the early 1970s, he decided on a career change and began cutting grass for a division of the Columbia Association while continuing to perform through the 1980s.

He took night school classes for eight years and was a graduate of a gardening training program at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa. He also was certified as a tree expert.

He became a foreman, and eventually the Columbia Association's assistant division director of open space management. He created many annual and perennial beds throughout the community.

"He loved splashes of color and textures in the beds," said Charles Rhodehamel, the Columbia Association's director of open space and a friend for the past 25 years. "He could come up with the right combinations in places like Symphony Woods, where he placed hostas and other perennials."

He added, "If there ever was a definition of a nice guy, it would be Warren. He never approached anyone as an adversary. He was open-minded."

Susan Thornton Hobby, a neighbor in the Owen Brown community, recalled his horticultural designs: "He loved to do things that were simple - he didn't care what a plant's Latin name was. He didn't care if they weren't supposed to be together. He wanted his own garden to be incredibly lush."

Friends said his favorite holiday was Halloween. He drove his truck to the Eastern Shore and bought three large pumpkins, which he carved and used as part of an elaborate lawn decoration. On Halloween night, he sat outside and handed out candy.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Columbia's Owen Brown Interfaith Center, 7246 Cradlerock Way.

Mr. Raymond is survived by his wife of 15 years, the former Teresa DeCheubel; two sons, Mike Raymond of Baltimore and Doug Raymond of Columbia; and two daughters, Stefani Raymond of Baltimore and Marci Raymond of Columbia.

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