Music 03

Wayne E. Conaway

October 9, 1929 ~ March 6, 2024 (age 94) 94 Years Old

Wayne Conaway Obituary

Beloved husband, father, grandfather, and extraordinary tenor, Wayne E Conaway passed away on Wednesday evening, March 6th at the age of 94.

Born in Philadelphia on October 9th, 1929, Wayne was the 4th of 7 children to the late Lester Conaway and Twyla Keller Conaway. Several of his siblings inherited musical talents from their mother, who played the piano in silent movies. But Wayne was the one with a real passion for the musical arts. His first performance was in 3rd grade, when his teacher asked him to sing “Oh Danny Boy” to the class. Some summers later, he joined a traveling Men's Chorus which toured around the South in an old Flexible Flyer bus that had to have a push to get started.

He also worked for a farmer one summer bringing in hay, milking cows, getting chased up a tree by a bull, and reading Zane Grey novels by the light of oil lamps.

When he enrolled at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music, (now part of the University of the Arts) one of his teachers, Stella Ferrari, encouraged him to pursue his Masters in Music. He pursued both the degree and Stella, and they married on January 8th, 1954. This incredible pair spent their professional careers together, teaching and sharing their love of the vocal arts with students all over the greater Philadelphia area.

Wayne taught at Haverford High School (20 years as Choir Director) as well as at West Chester University, Immaculata, Chestnut Hill, and Saint Charles Boromeo. And as a profound Catholic, he enjoyed conducting choirs and soloing at multiple churches, including Saint Agnes, Saint Maximillian, Saints Peter and Paul, and Saint Monica. He held lead roles in many operas, sung innumerable concerts, and later, performed at many retirement communities.

A former student from Haverford, Dr. Cheryl Koch, offered this memory:

Wayne spent a lot of time really teaching us how to sing. He was as particular about the music and our sound as he was about everything else - phrasing, breathing, enunciation, pitch, blend. We performed some very challenging choral works, like Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms. And when he conducted he was always singing with us - many times at full voice! He was “all in!”

Meticulous was Wayne's middle name, and his treasured granddaughters, Nica and Alex Morrison, would take notice when their "Da," as they called him, would leave something out of place. At the age of 5, Nica would comment that a room might be neat, but was not “Da neat.” His diligence translated to other habits, and he took his fitness seriously. In fact, one way he recruited male voices to the high school choir was to bet them that he could do one more push-up than they did. If they lost, they had to come to at least one rehearsal, and try singing in the choir. It worked, and Haverford always had great bass and tenor sections.

Another former student, Robert DeYoung, shared his memories:

Mr. Conaway was a phenomenal teacher! He had a passion for music, could make you enjoy it too, and had an incredible voice. He gave you confidence, and due to him, I auditioned for the school musical, Oklahoma, and sang the role of Jud!

Even in his 90's his disciplined attitude towards exercise, reading, and prayer kept him sharp, strong, and resilient. After a life full of music, love, friendship, and family, Wayne passed shortly after an affectionate conversation with his daughter, Terri. Their last words were "I love you."

He is predeceased by his wife, Stella, and son, Tony Conaway. He is survived by his daughter, Terri McCarthy, son-in-law Anthony McCarthy, and grandchildren Nica and Alex Morrison and Brendan McCarthy.

Relatives and friends are invited to visit the family on Saturday, April 6th, 2024 from 9:00 AM to 9:45 AM at St. Agnes Church at 233 West Gay Street, West Chester, PA 19380, followed by his Funeral Mass at 10:00 AM.

Interment will be private.

Arrangements by DellaVecchia, Reilly, Smith & Boyd Funeral Home, Inc. of West Chester, PA 610-696-1181; www.DellaFH.com

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Services

Visitation
Saturday
April 6, 2024

9:00 AM to 9:45 AM
St. Agnes Church
233 W. Gay St.
West Chester, PA 19380

Funeral Mass
Saturday
April 6, 2024

10:00 AM
St. Agnes Church
233 W. Gay St.
West Chester, PA 19380

Interment will be Private

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