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Obituaries & Guest Book

Harry A. Wacker

Sunday, November 10, 2019 from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM

Douglas A. Fiery Funeral Home

Monday, November 11, 2019 at 11:00 AM

Douglas A. Fiery Funeral Home


Harry A. Wacker passed away at Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown, MD on November 5, 2019. He was born on May 24, 1934 in Ambler, PA. 
He was the son of the late Harry L. Wacker Jr and Bertram A. Wacker (Kramer). 
Harry was a 1953 graduate of Ambler High School. He served in the United States Marine Corp for four years. Harry was an ocean lifeguard at Seaside Heights, NJ for 10 years. He received his bachelor’s degree from Peabody Conservatory and his Master’s degree from Towson University. Known by many as Mr. “Mad Dog” Wacker, Harry was the band director at Smithsburg High School for 37 years where he inspired many through his love of music. His passion for music continued after retirement when he became the Director Emeritus for the Baltimore Ravens Marching Band in 2001. He was also inducted into the Festival of Music Hall of Fame and his High School Hall of Fame.

He enjoyed playing golf, restoring antique automobiles, wood carving, boating and fishing, spending time with family and friends and his two faithful canine companions. 

He is survived by his wife of 44 years Sue E. Wacker; two daughters, Amy Rohrer and husband, George and Angela Williams; grandchildren, Heather, Grayson, Brody and Anniston; and great granddaughter, Lily.

He was preceded in death by his son, Mark Wacker and sister, Dinah Geiger.

Services will be held Monday, November 11, 2019, at 11:00 am, at the Douglas A. Fiery Funeral Home, 1331 Eastern Blvd. North Hagerstown, MD.

Family will receive friends at the funeral home, Sunday, November 10, 2019, from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

Interment will be at the Smithsburg Cemetery, Smithsburg, MD.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations, may be made to the Parkinson's Foundation 1359 Broadway, Suite 1509, New York, NY, 10018 or

Online condolences may be expressed at

Guest Book

Playing French horn in Harry Wacker's band at SHS was the highlight of each day of school. I loved so much of the music we played and the opportunity to be involved in the band for four years. Thank you, Mr. Wacker, for the talent you shared with us each day, the patience and leadership you gave during the trips and your creativity in the field shows. It is an era of my life I never want to forget. I thank God for you!

Michelle (Darrah) Cunningham
Gainesville, VA

I started flute lessons with Mr. Wacker when I was in fourth grade at Smithsburg Elementary and continued through high school. So many wonderful memories of those band years under Harry’s direction. He was a wonderful teacher, dedicated, but fun loving. He taught us much about team work and excellence. Rest In Peace dear Mr. Wacker.! You earned your wings!!

Donna Newcomer
Cambridge , Md.

I will never forget his passion for music. I was in his very small high school music theory class in ...1980? 1981? He told a story of a marching band show, and when he got to the clash of the cymbals, he smashed the imaginary instruments together, held his arms high in the air and dropped them slowly, saying "six shining cymbals, glittering in the sun!" I don't know why that stuck with me, but he truly loved everything about music, and his enthusiasm was contagious. He also regaled us with stories of his days playing with various groups and greats. In the middle of one story, his eyes glimmered with mischievous humor as he amended the "six pack of...coca cola" that would accompany practices. I have though of him often through the years. He will be greatly missed, and definitely left the world a more harmonious place :-)

Beth (Gutches) Nickerson
Thurmont, Maryland

"When someone you love becomes a memory, that memory becomes a treasure." Thank you for laying the foundation of music and performance for Baltimore's Marching Ravens and the legacy you have left behind. On behalf of your Ravens family, we are sorry for your loss. Sending thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

Baltimore's Marching Ravens
Baltimore, Maryland

Sue, Angie, and the Wacker Family, Thought of you all day. Mr. Wacker had a huge impact on my life. I still remember how innovative his half-time shows were and how he encouraged us to take pride in being different. Some of my favorite memories were hearing other bands say we couldn’t do things like feature the sax section, play music like Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, or do the traditional Hava Nagila dance. But as important as marching band was, it was so much fun to watch him share his passion for jazz with our jazz band. Everyone said we couldn’t win playing Moonlight Serenade but he proved them wrong! He taught us about the greats like Urbie Green, Count Basie, and Harry James while introducing us to innovators like Hank Levy. He always had our backs and he was a living example of kindness. I’ll never forget the time I had surgery and he came over to take me for a spin in an old antique car he had restored. It was so cool...the perfect medicine! Thanks for sharing him with all of us. Praying you find comfort and peace in all of your memories because as much as he loved his students, he loved his family so much more!’

Jennifer McWhirt
Hendersonville, TN

Dear Angie, Sue, and the rest of Harry's family. We were all so sorry to hear of his passing. You are in are prayers. Prayers for peace, comfort, and guidance. We know how difficult this time is for you all. We all have great memories. Love, The Boswell's Gary, Claire (Cochran), and Sarah (Lockhart)

Sarah Lockhart
Little River Academy, TEXAS

Class of '76. B band 72-73. Mr Wacker came to Cascade Middle school to test those of us in 8th grade who chose band as an elective. I had only been playing the drums or percussion for just that school year so was not good enough for 'A' band or the marching band. I was placed in 'B' band. It was only after the start of football season that I realized that I had dodged a bullet. While waiting on the bus to Fort Ritchie, I would watch the marching band practice. And practice. In all kinds on weather. I played freshman football and they were practicing before school started just as we did. They too had the two a day practices in the hot sun in preparation for the first varsity football home game. As the season progressed, Mr Wacker, whistle and megaphone in hand, would be teaching the band intricate maneuvers while it poured cold rain, then later on snow flurries. He was one tough hombre and earned the title "Mad Dog". My dad transferred at the end of my freshman year but I went to an all boys school the following year and was in both the ROTC marching band and the schools marching band as my skills, sharpened under Mr Wacker, helped me make the cut. I currently have stage iv Oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma and start treatment tomorrow. I may be seeing him soon. We will have alot to catch up on.

Lee Etheridge
Manvel, TX

To Mr. Wackers family my prayers to you all for comfort! He was such a great band director. When I was flag quad captain my junior and senior year he was always so supportive of me even when I was unsure of myself. He was a sweetheart! To this day I still think of him when I hear the lion king song we did the one year showcase of bands and the Florida trips we made it to as well! Best memories!

Susan Hartz
Hagerstown , Md

I am so sorry. I knew Harry through the Baltimore Colts Band and Baltimore's Marching Ravens. What a wonderful man and musician! I am very thankful for everything he did for us. He will be greatly missed.

Rick Stewart
Edgewater , MD

I was fortunate to participate in band under the tutelage of Harry Wacker. Being in his band was THE place to be - everyone who wasn't was envious. I think for a while he shared the story of an unassuming Freshman (me) blowing all his Orlando trip money the 1st day we arrived in Florida for our week of competition. He was a great instructor and man, and he certainly left an indelible mark on all he taught (me included). So many fond memories. May he rest in peace, and thoughts and prayers to his family. Andy Walberg Powell, Ohio

Andy Walberg
Powell, OH

Will always known what u did I my life ty rip!¡

Stephen moser
Altoona, Pa

sue, sorry to hear about Harry. should you need anything please let me know

hagerstown, Maryland

Sue Wacker & family deepest condolences to yo all. Loosing Harry is incredibly sad & heart breaking. Harry was my favorite teacher, mentor & director. He will be deeply missed. Harry, Rest in Peace. You will now be at peace with God our Father. Also all your loved ones who have gone before you. Harry I love you for all who you were. For being such an amazing person and teacher/instructor. Sending Prayers to Sue & all the family for God's Peace, Love & Healing. Amen

Barb (Rickett) Moats
Hagerstown , MD

Sue Wacker & family deepest condolences to yo all. Loosing Harry is incredibly sad & heart breaking. Harry was my favorite teacher, mentor & director. He will be deeply missed. Harry, Rest in Peace. You will now be at peace with God our Father. Also all your loved ones who have gone before you. Harry I love you for all who you were. For being such an amazing person and teacher/instructor. Sending Prayers to Sue & all the family for God's Peace, Love & Healing. Amen

Barb (Rickett) Moats
Hagerstown , MD

Mr. Wacker taught me so much as a young band director in Washington County,, Maryland. I loved his marching bands creativeness and his fantastic jazz bands. Mr. Wacker was a true giant as a music educator and as a gentleman.

John Edward Eckstine
Hagerstown, MD

Sue, Angie and Family, I send all of my prayers and love. He made such a difference in my life in Band class. A lot of precious memories! I send all my sympathies.

Melinda Obitts Smith
Smithsburg, MD

He was a mentor and inspiration to innumerable students over many years. His legacy is his love of music and passing that love on to the many people he influenced.

Karen Keister Gomez-Kling
Wayne , PA

My heart is sad! I knew “Mr. Wacker”as a teacher that I never had, except through Nancy Bushey in Drama Class for the high school productions and as a Co-worker at Smithsburg High School when I was a secretary. Remember watching a parade on National TV and there he was leading the way and writing music for the new Ravens team! Always a class act! Will always remember him and his beautiful smile. Prayers for strength coming your way to family and friends. What a gift he was to the Smithsburg community!

Karen Eckstine-Martin
Smithsburg , Maryland

Mr wackier was one of my favorite teachers. He inspired each person to be the best. Prayers to Sue (a great clarinet player) His family and friends.

Debbie Weaver Poole
Hagerstown , Md

Mr wackier was one of my favorite teachers. He inspired each person to be the best. Prayers to Sue (a great clarinet player) His family and friends.

Debbie Weaver Poole
Hagerstown , Md

We are so very sorry for your loss. Harry was a great mentor to my son and daughter, Sean and Kim. Has always been fondly remembered for all he did for all his "kids" at Smithsburg Jr. and Sr High Schools. Prayers are with you all.

Diane Snowberger

Mr. Wacker touched and changed the course of many young lives over his years. It is often not until we grow older that we are able to look back and realize our good fortune for having known such a great man. I can look back now and see that it wasn't just the music, it was how he interacted with the kids. His influence will live on for generations to come. God Bless.

Ed Coyle
Marriottsville, Maryland

I'm very sorry to hear about Mr. Wacker's passing and know that I'm thinking about his family at this difficult time. Being in his band program at Smithsburg High School was truly a great experience so much so that I chose to go into Music Education as a profession. We also enjoyed his stories about his time in the Marine Corps, when he was a life guard and all the people he performed with as a trombone player. Dan Snurr Winter Garden Florida

Dan Snurr
Winter Garden , Florida

Very sad to hear of the passing of Mr. Wacker. He was a big part of my experience at Smithsburg High, and I spent many hours with him as part of the band and jazz band. He was truly a very nice and caring person, and he put up with a lot from loads of crazy teenagers. Through it all he managed to teach us all something and share with us his musical gift and talent. My thoughts and prayers go out to Sue and his family. Rest in peace Mr. Wacker.

Phil Nussear
Nashville, Tennessee

Please accept my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Mr. Wacker is at the very center of many of my high school memories. I can not say that a love of playing my clarinet was my reason for looking forward to his class everyday but of being a part of something bigger, a family! I met my future husband through that class and so many other people along the way! He had high expectations of us but he also made it fun along the way. Thank you for sharing him with us and know that his legacy will live on for a very long time through all of his students!

Danielle Ritter Kuhn
Thurmont, MD

Many memories with band and jazz band 1980-1984. Condolences and prayers to the family.

Gary Jones
Hagerstown, MD

Countless lives were touched by Mr. Wacker as band director at Smithsburg High School...far and wide! The hours I spent with him in high school were some of my very best. I enjoyed jazz band, pit band, and even music theory! My deepest condolences to his family. I know you will deeply miss his presence. I send love, prayers, and an evening of piano music dedicated to him from Alabama.

Becky Stanley Preston
Oxford, AL

Great memories and quite a teacher. We were very lucky to have him as a guide. My sympathies to the family in this time of loss. I know he lives in many hearts.

John Worden
Adamstown , Maryland

Harry was a great teacher, band director and supporter of SHS. My sincere condolences to you and your family. He inspired many but you will feel the deepest loss. Prayers for you and your family will continue.

Cindy Reeder
Boonsboro, MD

Dear Sue and Family I'm so sorry to here of Mr. Wacker's passing. Such great memories of a great band teacher and man. May you find peace at this time. Georgia Fishack Plum

Georgia Plum
Hope Mills , NC

I can think of no greater honor than to say that Mr. Wacker positively influenced the lives of thousands hard to reach teens during his time at Smithsburg High. He earned our respect and we all knew we were going to walk away from our high school years as better musicians and people because of the time we spent in that band room. In a time when many band’s were struggling to recruit players, Mr. Wacker’s room would be filled with 200+ kids on any given day ready to play. That was no accident. We WANTED to be there. To his family, thank you for sharing him with us. I’m praying for all of you.

Janet (Grove) Dill

My thoughts are with his family.

Lisa (Young) Amos
Hagerstown , MD

Have a bunch of wonderful memories of you. Sorry that you had to leave so soon. Now you can conduct the angels. It will be a wonderful sound!

Glenn and Anna Babcock
Meyersdale , Pennsylvania

To all Mr Wacker’s family and friends: He truly inspired our band to do great things. He drove us to greater heights. He will be leading a the angels in heaven. Think of him every time the thunder roars as him directing our heavenly chorus and band.

Sue Ellin Grier Clarke
Poolesville, Maryland

A wonderful friend and musical companion. He inspired many. He was one of a kind, with a passion to love and respect all that he knew. A good husband, father and grandfather. A super teacher for so many students. His love of Smithsburg was obvious. My personal memories of our times together are numerous. I’ll always have a smile as I reflect back. RIP my good friend.

Noel Kunkle
Williamsport , Maryland

Going to miss Harry. I had the opportunity to spend time with Harry on our golf trips. We had some great times. We had conversations about military music, golf, and cars. He enriched the lives of so many people.

John Mitchell
Fairplay, Md

So incredibly sorry to hear of Mr. Wacker’s passing. He was an amazing man who had an incredible passion for his students and music! My thoughts and prayers are with you during this time.

Tara (Thurston) Simmons
Frederick, MD

Sue, Angie, your are in my thoughts, prayers during this difficult time. If there is anything you need or I can do. Please don’t hesitate to call me. 301-992-5902 is my cell. I carry it 24/7. I love you both with all my heart!

Matt Malcolm
Smithsburg , Md

Mr. Wacker will always hold a special place in my heart. He was a wonderful man, teacher and friend. He inspired a greater love for music in me. I am so thankful for the years I spent under his direction. Praying comfort and peace for your family during this time.

Shauna Davis Gregg
Darlington, SC

Sue, Angie and family. Our hearts are broken by the loss of such a great friend. We have so many fun memories living in our hearts. From band trips, jazz band, field shows, and memorable nights at Pizza Hut. The list goes on and on. Our love to you and yours during this time. Nancy & Jim Kirkpatrick

Nancy & JimKirkpatrick
Cascade, MD

My condolences to Sue and all family members. Such good memories of Harry as he directed the Smithsburg High School band. My girls, Jodi and Lori were both in the band.

Carolyn Flair
Hagerstown, Maryland

Mr. Wacker was such a huge influence in my early life and such an inspiration to me to pursue a career in the arts. I love the hours a day I spent in his classroom between band and jazz band. What a brilliant lesson that you could work really hard and be technically proficient but it didn't mean anything unless there was heart and joy in the effort. My trumpet gathers more dust than it should these days, but whenever I play I'm immediately taken back to that classroom playing jazz or getting ready for Pops with Mr. Wacker conducting, that small wry smile of approval on his face. Thanks for everything Mad Dog...

Johnny Recher
Los Angeles, CA

It is with great sadness to hear of Harry's passing. He was a true gentleman and kind friend who taught me a great deal about golf and dealing with some of life's changes. It was always more fun on our numerous golf trips when Harry was along, leading the way. He will be missed. Mark

Mark Catherman
Hagerstown, MD

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