Nunc Dimittis

July 28, 2011

Oswald Gleason Ragatz, formerly of Bloomington, Indiana, and recently residing in Burnsville, Minnesota, died May 20, of natural causes. Dr. Ragatz was Professor Emeritus of Music at Indiana University. Born October 30, 1917, he grew up in Sterling, Colorado, where he graduated as valedictorian from high school in 1935. He received the Bachelor of Arts degree from Denver University, the Master of Arts from the Eastman School of Music, and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Southern California. Additional graduate study was done in New York City at the Juilliard School of Music and the Union Theological Seminary School of Sacred Music. While in Denver, he played oboe in the Denver Civic Symphony and was organist at Broadway Baptist Church.
Dr. Ragatz came to Indiana University in 1942 as instructor of organ and theory. Over the ensuing years, the organ department, with a faculty of four, grew to include as many as 55 organ majors, both undergraduate and graduate. When he retired after 41 years as chairman of the organ department at Indiana University, over 70 of his graduates held teaching posts in institutions of higher learning. Many former students also hold prominent positions in churches in the United States and abroad. He also held teaching posts at Wilson College, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
As a concert artist, Oswald Ragatz was heard in nearly every state, as well as in Europe and the Far East. In addition to teaching and concertizing, Dr. Ragatz held posts as organist-choirmaster in Rochester and Scarsdale, New York, and in Indiana, including ten years at First Methodist Church and 25 years at First Presbyterian Church, both in Bloomington. He was consultant for new organs in numerous churches throughout the Midwest. He authored Organ Technique: A Basic Course of Study, a widely used text/anthology published by the Indiana University Press and republished by T.I.S. Music.
After his retirement in 1983, Dr. Ragatz continued his interest in musical pursuits, and he wrote two mystery novels, published by Authorhouse. He was active in the First Christian Church in Bloomington and served on the board of directors at the Center for University Ministries for a number of years. He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Louise (Christena), by a daughter, Kathryn Anne, and grandsons, Michael and Brooke. His living descendents include his daughter Elizabeth Christena Ragatz (and husband, Jack Van Der Wege) of Burnsville, MN, Gary Allen Ragatz (and wife, Paula) of Danville, IN, Gail Annette Ragatz (and partner, Mary Duncan), of McConnelsville, OH, Gina Alice Dubyak (and husband, Bruce), of Stuart, FL, Steven Andrew Ragatz (and wife, Lisa), of Bloomington, eight grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.
Memorials may be made to the Oswald and Mary Ragatz Scholarship Fund, Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47403, or to PlanUSA (

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