William Wood Raper, Jr.


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Winston-Salem, NC - Mr. William Wood Raper Jr., aged 91, of Merrimac, Mass., and more recently Winston-Salem, N.C., passed away on Fri., June 7, 2019, in Winston-Salem, N.C. He was born in High Point, N.C., on July 5, 1927, to William Wood Raper Sr., and his wife, Louise Withers. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the end of World War II and served on the U.S.S. Sicily. After being discharged on July 18, 1946, he attended NC State University where he earned a degree in Engineering General. William was a gifted musician, sang in choruses throughout his school years, and was a devoted church choir member at Highland Presbyterian in Winston-Salem, and then in the Congregational Church of Merrimac, Mass. He was a fine cellist. He was one of the earliest members of the Winston-Salem Symphony where he met his first wife, Minnie Lou Dent. They were married on June 15, 1951, and had two children, Margaret Lou and Victor William. He worked for Western Electric in Winston-Salem, before being transferred to the Merrimac Valley Works Mass. location in 1972 from which he retired. While living in Mass., he met and married Geraldine Lagammo on October 12, 1974. William bought and lovingly restored a beautiful 100-year-old home in Merrimac. After retirement, he pursued his many interests. He and Geraldine enjoyed extensive travel and sang in several musical groups, most notably performing roles in productions of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. William played cello in the Melrose Symphony Orchestra and particularly enjoyed playing in a piano trio with his friends Marilyn Randall, pianist and Robert Sanferrare, violinist. William loved gardening, woodworking and golf. He handcrafted beautiful pieces of furniture and made many fine violins, violas, and cellos. When Geraldine began to suffer with Parkinson's, William was her devoted caregiver until her death in 2017. William recently moved back to Winston-Salem where he resided in the Homestead Hills retirement community. William is preceded in death by his parents; brothers, John Austin Raper and James Withers Rader; his former wife Minnie Lou Raper, and his wife, Geraldine Lagammo Raper. He is survived by one brother, Franklin Leon Rader (Jewell) Gallatin, Tenn.; his children, Margaret Lou Rehder (David) Winston-Salem, N.C., and Victor William Rader (Janet) Redmond, Wash.; his grandchildren, Kyle William Rader and Christine Nicole Rader. He leaves behind many wonderful friends, extended family members and acquaintances who all knew him as a kind and true gentleman. Many thanks to the staff at Homestead Hills for their compassionate care of William. A memorial and graveside service will take place in Merrimac, Mass., at a date to be determined. Arrangements are through Hayworth-Miller Funeral Home on Silas Creek Parkway. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Pilgrim Congregational Church, 27 Church St., Merrimac, MA 01860, or the charity of your choice. Online condolences may be made at www.Hayworth-Miller.com.
Published on June 11, 2019
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3 posts

Ellen S Meuse
Jun 11, 2019
Gerry and Bill were long time friends of our family (Ellen Stahle, Paul Meuse and my 3 boys - John, Danny and David). We sang many Gilbert and Sullivan operetta together and also sang for several years in the Baker's Dozen under the direction of Margot Warner. My life is enriched having known them both for many years and they will always be a warm highlight of my memories. My deepest sympathy to all the family.
Laura Dillingham-Mailman & George (Bud) Mailman
Jun 11, 2019
We first met Bill while singing in the church choir together in Merrimac. His amazing voice and beautiful renditions that he played on the cello were so special. We loved it when he sang with Gerry in duets at the church and also in the "Santa Shows". Later when Laura became director for the Merrimac Senior Center, she got to know him even better. We traveled together on senior trips to NYC and to see the WWII monument and were able to get pictures of him in front of the NC memorial part. He was such a kind and wonderful man and we will always remember him. Thank you for sharing him all these years!
Bob Sanferrare
Jun 11, 2019
Bill- We miss you and Gerry. I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to make music with you and Marilyn and occasionally with Gerry's beautiful singing. I'm guessing you're hearing a lot of beautiful music now and sharing it with her. Joanna and Bob