Douglas Edwin Kehlenbrink, 68, passed away on March 25, 2022 at Bridgewater Retirement Community in Bridgewater, Va. Doug was born on August 25, 1953, to Charles and Janice Schattel Kehlenbrink in Richmond, Indiana.
In his youth, Doug developed an intense interest in music, excelling first on the clarinet and then the bassoon, which became his primary instrument. By freshman year in high school he was named 1st chair bassoonist in the Indiana All-State Orchestra. He attended Ball State University where he studied music, history, art and literature, including a transformative time honing his performance skills in London. In 1975, Doug completed his performance degree, followed by additional studies at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. Here he met fellow musician and the love of his life, Diane Johnson. They married on December 19, 1981 and enjoyed more than 40 years together. Their family was complete when their beloved and dear child Peter Douglas was born in 1989.
In 1977, Doug earned a Master of Higher Education degree from JMU, launching his long, productive teaching career on the faculty at this institution. His class offerings included chamber music, music theory, music history and bassoon. During his 22 years here, he achieved the rank of Associate Professor, served as Assistant Director of the Honors Program and as the first Faculty Advisor for JMU’s Black Student Alliance. Doug’s love for Europe led to a term as Faculty Member in Residence in Florence, Italy. In 1990, he was appointed the Director of the Semester in London Program. One of his great joys was sharing his passion for the arts with the studies abroad participants, all of whom benefited from visits to art galleries, theaters, concerts and the occasional pub.
In 2000, Doug and his family moved to Alexandria, VA where he served as Chair of the Arts at Episcopal High School. Doug capitalized on the proximity to Washington D.C., by taking his students to varied cultural events, forever opening their hearts and minds to the arts. He sought opportunities to expand his students’ experiences through interdisciplinary teaching, particularly within the arts. His interests in music ran the gamut from Handel to Hip-Hop, and Beethoven to Beck. Doug was instrumental in establishing the National Chamber Players concert series at Episcopal High School, an ongoing series that gives students and the community opportunities to hear players from the National Symphony and artists from around the country.
Doug’s professional career was influenced by notable bassoonists Sol Schoenbach, William Waterhouse, Mark Popkin and Homer Pence. He performed professionally for decades appearing as Principal Bassoon with the Concert Artists of Baltimore and the Roanoke Symphony of Virginia. He performed with the Filene Center Orchestra and the Wolf Trap Opera Company, the National Gallery Orchestra, the Kennedy Center’s Opera House Orchestra, the Washington Chamber Symphony and the Washington Bach Consort, amongst many other professional appearances. He was a founding member of the Montpelier Winds at JMU, the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival and his Trio d’Anche, WindRose.
In 2016, Doug was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and he retired from his position at Episcopal High School. Then, as long promised to one another, Doug and Diane returned to their beloved Shenandoah Valley. His courageousness through this debilitating disease was apparent as he was still able to smile and find humor in his daily life. Doug enjoyed participating in Rock Steady Boxing and Dance for Parkinson’s Disease, an interdisciplinary pairing of music and movement in keeping with his own teaching ideals. Doug endeavored to stay vibrant and strong for those he loved and who loved him.
He was preceded in death by his parents Charles and Janice Kehlenbrink. He is survived by his wife, Diane Johnson Kehlenbrink and his son, Peter Douglas Kehlenbrink (Carly Evans) of Washington DC; sister, Carol Ann Kehlenbrink of Houston, TX; sister-in-law, Carey Lea Tynan (Timothy) of Arlington, VA; sister-in-law Leslie Johnson Higgins (William) of Newtown Square, PA; nieces and nephews, Mark Tynan, Kelly Tynan Blanchard (Charlie), William Higgins (Emily), Bretta Higgins and Olivia Kehlenbrink.
The family wishes to acknowledge the team of Joy House at Bridgewater Retirement Community for the exceptional love and care given to Doug during this past year. They created a warm and welcoming home for which we are forever grateful.
A celebration of life will be held at a later date. Burial will be private. Memorial contributions may be made to the Bridgewater Retirement Community Foundation, American Parkinson Disease Association or The Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival. Johnson Funeral Service in Bridgewater is entrusted with arrangements.