OU School Of Music Professor Emeritus Dies After Being Struck By Car

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A retired professor and musician died after being hit by a car while crossing Radford Road on Friday.

Richard D. Syracuse, of Athens, was crossing the road at about 9:40 p.m. when a Dodge Grand Caravan driven by Sarah A. Harkins, of Athens, struck him, according to a press release by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Athens post.

Syracuse was pronounced dead at OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital. Harkins did not suffer any injuries, according to the Highway Patrol.

Syracuse was a native of The Bronx and studied at Juilliard School before teaching and performing in Athens for nearly 50 years.

He regularly played piano at Cutler’s Restaurant at the Ohio University Inn, according to a previous profile by The Messenger.

His musical career began at the age of 4 when he attended a cousin’s wedding and heard “Here Comes the Bride.”

“So I went to the piano with one finger, and I started tapping the ivory and finding the notes of ‘Here Comes the Bride,’” Syracuse said from his studio at the School of Music in 2013. “I kept doing that and my father took notice of this.”

He was taught by a Russian instructor from the School of Music and Art in New York, who encouraged him to apply to Juilliard. He studied there from 1953-1961, earning a master’s degree in performance. He won a Fulbright scholarship and spent two years studying in Rome.

He was later asked by the director of OU’s School of Music to join the school, and Athens became his home. Throughout his life, music kept him going, he said in 2013.

“What else would it be?” he said. “Music is a beautiful thing. What would we do without music?”

An investigation into the crash is still pending.