Dr. Jean Lee Raines (1949-2021): A Tribute


When Joe Judge ’87 was a freshman at Pfeiffer College, he sang with the school’s Symphonic Choir in a spring performance conducted by Dr. Richard Brewer, then Pfeiffer’s Director of Choral Music. Brewer (1921-2006) had come up with a concert program that paired a non-choral piece with a masterwork for choir and orchestra.

Dr. Jean Lee Raines, a music professor at Pfeiffer who died earlier this month, got the nod in the wholly instrumental fare, soloing with members of the Charlotte Symphony in Clarinet Concerto in A Major, Wolfgang Mozart’s masterpiece from 1791.

“I was so impressed with her playing,” said Judge, who is now Pfeiffer’s Director of Vocal and Choral Music. “Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto became one of my favorite classical pieces after that.”

Raines was living in Humboldt, Tenn. at the time of her death. She began as an Assistant Professor of Music at Pfeiffer in 1980 and retired a Professor of Music after the 2014-15 academic year. She arrived on the University’s Misenheimer campus with several degrees, including a Ph.D. from Michigan State University in clarinet performance, theory and literature. She had played the clarinet in the professional orchestras of Memphis, Tenn., and East Lansing, Mich.

Like most accomplished clarinetists, she made Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto one of her calling cards. The work is among several famous pieces by Mozart in which the clarinet figures prominently, including the Clarinet Quintet in A Major and the Clarinet Trio in E-flat Major (“Kegelstatt”).

When clarinetist Lisa Ewers ’89 was a high school student looking around for colleges with good music programs, she included her rendition of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto on an audition tape and sent it to Raines. The professor liked the potential she heard in Ewers’ playing and took her on as a student.

Ewers blossomed under Raines’ instruction: She enhanced her technique, and she developed into a musician who could make her instrument “sing” (parlance among musicians for the most expressive playing). She even joined Raines in public performances of duets.

Ewers ended up majoring in voice and, after graduating Pfeiffer, earned a master’s degree in special education from UNC Charlotte. Today, she’s an Exceptional Children’s Transition Specialist for the Rowan-Salisbury School System.

Thanks in large part to Raines, she also remains an active clarinetist. She plays in the Stanly County Concert Band, which is open to Pfeiffer student-musicians and rehearses on the University’s Misenheimer campus. “It’s a lot of fun for me to play,” she said.

Raines played a significant role in Pfeiffer’s instrumental music programs, offering studio instruction in clarinet and piano. She led Pfeiffer’s Jazz Ensemble and its Handbell Choir. She coached members of Pfeiffer’s Wind Ensemble and Stage Band.

During her time at Pfeiffer, she served as the organist and choir director at Wesley Chapel UMC in Misenheimer, N.C. She also was the rehearsal accompanist for First Baptist Church in Salisbury, N.C. 

Raines served effectively behind the scenes at Pfeiffer as well, chairing the Department of Music and serving as the Dean of the School of Fine Arts. Both Judge and Dr. Juanita Kruse, a Professor of History at Pfeiffer from 1982 to 2018, came to admire Raines’ diligence and meticulous attention to detail, qualities that enabled her to bring several accreditation processes to a successful conclusion. On multiple occasions, Raines played a leading role in securing both the music department’s accreditation and that of the University as a whole during her tenure.

Kruse served with Raines on an accreditation committee aimed at gaining the approval of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Kruse was so impressed with Raines’ contributions that she nominated her for a Starnes Award, which she received in 2007.

Raines “was very good at that kind of thing,” Kruse said. “She worked very hard. I would give her the most credit for Pfeiffer getting reaccredited.”

While at Pfeiffer, Raines oversaw a music education program* that produced scores of instructors working in schools and churches across the region. They include Judge and Phil Suggs ’84, the longtime choral director at York (S.C.) Comprehensive High School. York’s choir recently presented a fine performance of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” under Suggs’ direction.

Another music education major of note during Raines’ tenure was tenor Craig Estep ’83. He’s now Director of Music & Worship Arts at Matthews (N.C.) United Methodist Church. He sang opera professionally for 12 years before overseeing music ministries at churches and working at Charlotte (N.C.) Latin School, his former employer, where he conducted choirs and taught voice.

Estep has positive memories of Raines, whose obituary was posted by Shelton Funeral Home of Humboldt, Tenn.

“I always felt comfortable talking to Jean,” Estep said. “I felt good about her being there. She brought a new energy to the music department.”


*Editor’s Note: The music education major at Pfeiffer University began being phased out in 2010. On June 11, Pfeiffer’s Board of Trustees voted to reinstate the music education major beginning in the fall of 2022.

Ken Keuffel, who authored this article, has served as Pfeiffer’s Assistant Director of Communications since December 2019. He welcomes story ideas from Pfeiffer’s faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends. The form for submitting story ideas is at www.pfeiffer.edu/newsform.​