Donald J. Sorel

April 12, 1957 - April 07, 2020 

Donald J. Sorel

April 12, 1957 - April 07, 2020 

Obituary for Donald J. Sorel

Don Sorel, aged 62, of Pomona NY, died on April 7, at Good Samaritan hospital, due to Covid 19.

Don’s extraordinary musical talents became obvious at a very young age. He would run around the house saying, “I’m Chopin, I’m Chopin!” His astute parents took this as a sign, and bought him an upright piano and hired him a local piano teacher named Judy Thomas. She wisely noticed his exceptional talent, and suggested that he attend the Preparatory Division at the Juilliard School. Don was welcomed into the school by Dr. Mary B. Lenom, and was assigned to the renowned instructor Robert Harris, who encouraged Don’s parents to buy him a grand piano, and they benevolently bought him a Steinway! Don’s talent then soared, and by age 14 he was teaching piano lessons to local children, and was substituting for George Bryant as organist at St. Ann’s church in Nyack.

Don attended Nyack High School, and then Columbia College and Columbia Teacher’s College, where he earned a Master’s degree in Music Education. He was immediately hired by Collegiate School in Manhattan where he had done his student teaching. Don enriched the Collegiate community for 38 years with his passion for music, creativity, deep understanding of the liberal arts, and absolute belief in the importance of art being a central part of such an education. His vision for music at Collegiate served to bring meaning into the lives of boys since he first arrived at the School in 1982. He was focused and persistent in building the school’s current K to 12 music program. Don founded and developed the Collegiate Conservatory Program. It was Don’s foresight that helped create the extraordinary Middle School strings program that provides boys with the tri-annual opportunity of performing in Carnegie Hall. One of the signature moments in the life of the school, where the support of the boys for one another is vivid, are the divisional talent shows that Don established. He was the driving force in designing the music spaces in their new building. In addition to all of those breathtaking achievements, he directed choral groups for 38 years. Thanks to his passion, music is deeply rooted in the culture of the Collegiate School. Beyond his inspiration of students, meaningful relationships with colleagues, and leadership of the Music Department, Don played a central role in organizing and guiding the community’s ritual events. From his graceful and heartfelt playing of the organ in West End Collegiate Church, to his vision and leadership in working with faculty and students to bring their annual Holiday Program together—the meaningful, moving, and enduring nature of their ritual events are forever tied to Don’s involvement and commitment to the boys and the school. A man of tremendous devotion, accomplishment, and humility, Don’s passing leaves a hole in the Collegiate community. His legacy—their wonderful music program—endures and will enrich and ennoble boys for generations to come. His quiet but incredibly effective leadership yielded culture-changing results.

Throughout the years, Don was the organist at The Brick Church in New Hempstead, and then at St. Francis of Assisi Church in West Nyack. Don was a devoted Catholic, and spent the last 30 years as the organist at St. Margaret Church in Pearl River, alongside his wife Terri, who was the music director and cantor. Their love of the Lord, and their passion for spreading God’s word through musical expression graced the lives of so many devoted parishioners throughout those many years. As part of their ministry, they performed at countless funerals and weddings, many times for family and friends, which was especially meaningful to them. Don was particularly fond of working with the choir in a joy-filled manner and in finding meaningful, uplifting pieces for them to perform.

Don loved to ski and golf, and was an avid movie buff, but his true passion was for traveling. He traveled to France, Italy, England, Scotland, Canada, Mexico, Honduras, and very many Caribbean Islands and states in America, and even a riverboat cruise. However, some of the happiest times he had were with his family and friends at Disneyworld.

Don is survived by his high school sweetheart and adoring wife Terri, (nee Slaker,) whom he loved dearly; his wonderful sons: Jason Sorel, Jeffrey Sorel and Alex Sprague; his sister: Michele Ivey Sorel & Darryl G. Ivey; his brother: Patrick Sorel & Leslie; his sister- in-law Mary Ann Haas & Bill; his nieces and nephews: Tricia Prentice & Russ, Nick Irizarry & Corrina, Khalfani, Danyal , Amina , and Elijah Sorel, Marcel Sorel & Danielle, Trevor and Alyssa Prentice, Rylee and Hailee Velez and Morgan Irizarry; his Goddaughter: Keelie Baur & Jake; his dear cousin: Kesner Sorel Jr. & Marie Leslie; his aunts and uncles: Rose Jeffrey, Jacqueline P. Coupet, Jean Claude Joubert, and Marie Jo Joubert; and best friend: Bob Kinoian; as well as countless other family, friends, colleagues and students. He was predeceased by his wonderful parents: Fernand and Germaine Sorel.

Due to the current corona virus social distancing restrictions, a memorial service in his honor will be postponed until a later date. The date and location will appear on this site once determined.

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