Nov. 29, 1936 – Dec. 31, 2012
Robert R. Vehar, a music teacher who developed and directed award-winning choruses at Clarence High School for 35 years, died Monday in Mercy Hospital after a short illness. He was 76.
In school and in private lessons, Mr. Vehar inspired and trained two generations of singers and teachers. He was the first voice teacher for several singers who went on to careers on Broadway, with the Metropolitan Opera and with major orchestras. Scores of others became teachers and conductors and sang with orchestra and church choirs.
He was a music teacher and choral director at Clarence High School from 1966 to 2001 and taught vocal music at Potsdam State College and Canisius College. He also gave seminars and instruction on improving speech and voice quality.
He lectured on voice, vocal sight-reading and choral matters at Ithaca College, Roberts Wesleyan College and Geneseo State College, for the Music Educators National Conference Eastern Division and for numerous school districts and annual conferences of music educators.
Born in Gowanda, he was a graduate of Gowanda High School. He earned a degree in music education from Ithaca College and a master’s degree in music from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, which he attended on a full-tuition scholarship.
An Eggertsville resident, Mr. Vehar served on the board of trustees of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and was given the orchestra’s Margaret C. Ballbach Memorial Award in 2007 for outstanding fundraising efforts.
He was a member of the board of trustees of the New York State School Music Association and a member of the American Choral Directors Association and the Amherst Chamber of Commerce. He also was a member of the First Church of Christ Scientist in Williamsville.
An avid organic gardener, he grew outstanding tomatoes and bumper crops of squash and parsley.
Surviving are his wife of 51 years, the former Persis Parshall, a composer and pianist; a son, Jonathan; and a daughter, Gabrielle.
A celebration of his life will be held at 2 p.m. next Saturday in the Unitarian Universalist Church of Amherst, 6320 Main St.