Douglas L. Rafter, Portland’s longest-lived Municipal Organist, died on Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at the Portland Center for Assisted Living. He was 97.
A native of Wilmington, Vermont, Rafter moved to Portland in 1971. He was a concert organist, and had a repertoire of about 275 pieces of organ music memorized. He also taught music privately, and at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, and the University of Southern Maine. He was organist and choir director at Immanuel Baptist Church for 13 years, and then worked at other churches in the Portland area until his retirement in 2005.
Over the years, he gave 1700 organ concerts throughout the United States. He played his first organ concert in Portland in 1936, right after earning his Associate’s degree from the American Guild of Organists. In March 2010 he was honored by the AGO for 75 years of consecutive membership, all but the last five of which had been in uninterrupted service as a church organist and concert performer.
Douglas Rafter was Portland’s Municipal Organist from 1976 until 1981, and during those years he entertained thousands of listeners with his interpretations of musical masterpieces, classical and popular alike. He had an enviable record, playing summer series concerts for 68 years. Thousands more will remember his Christmas preludes before the annual Magic Of Christmas concert.