D. Robert Burroughs, a Columbia Basin College music professor, known as a talented violinist with an infectious laugh, died Wednesday afternoon in Richland.
Burroughs, 61, had been hospitalized recently at Kadlec Regional Medical Center with an undisclosed illness, according to CBC officials.
Staff at the college and his friends said they were saddened and shocked by his death but said they have fond memories of his beautiful music and outgoing nature.
"He could play like nobody's business," said his friend Steve Haberman.
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Burroughs, a Tri-City native, previously was a violinist with the Mid-Columbia Symphony. He also was a composer and had self-released several albums of his music.
He began teaching at the college in 1999, when Bill McKay became dean of CBC's arts and humanities division. Burroughs also became the principal violinist for the college orchestra and was the orchestra's director for several years.
Burroughs was one of three collaborators, along with sculptor Tom McClelland and Burroughs' ex-wife and dancer Suzanne Burroughs, behind Metal Meets Metal. The 2002 stage production combined dance and sculpture with numerous musical genres.
Haberman said Burroughs was the first musician he met in the Tri-Cities after moving here in 1996 and the two became friends and collaborated and performed together a few times.
He and others said Burroughs was a gifted musician who could play any style of music, from classical to jazz, though he leaned toward New Age and experimental work.
"His talent as an eclectic musician was wonderful, whether he was playing something odd like a zither or a rainstick at a local church, picking a handmade fiddle at the old TS Cattleman's restaurant, or conducting a string ensemble," CBC President Rich Cummins said in a letter sent to college staff on Thursday.
CBC officials said Burroughs was ill last year and left the college before the end of the spring 2012 term. However, he returned last fall and conducted the orchestra's fall concert.
Burroughs asked that there be no service. He is survived by a teenage son.