Littles Funeral Homes Services Located in Littlestown, PA Near Gettysburg, York and Westminster
Herbert  J.

Herbert J. "Herb" Sell

Jun 8th, 1929 - Jan 26th, 2024
  • Birth Date: Jun 8th, 1929
  • Death Date: Jan 26th, 2024
  • Funeral Date: Feb 3rd, 2024
  • Location: Bethel Assembly of God, Littlestown
  • Save: Print this Obituary

Biography: With great sadness, the family of Herbert J. Sell announces his passing.
Although the keys of his beloved Yamaha Baby Grand Piano are now silent, his music will remain in our hearts forever.
Herbert John Sell, 94, died on Friday, January 26, 2024 at his home. He was the husband of the late Eleanor G. Sell, who passed away on July 28, 2007. He was born on June 8, 1929. He was the son of the late John N. Sell and Ada M. Panebaker. He is survived by his daughter, Kathy Sell Walton and son, John Herbert Sell (Angela). He is also survived by his sisters Janet Sell Cole and Betty Sell Jones. Herb is survived by five grandchildren: Heather Stough (William), Ryan Walton, Christopher Sell, Derek Sell (Megan), and Jordan Taylor. He also leaves 4 great-grandchildren: Lauren Stough, Ayden Walton, Katherine Sell, and Andrew Sell. Also surviving is beloved family member, Rich Hopkins (Laura). Herb was preceded in death by an infant son, James Sell, and a sister Anna Mae Sell Gobrecht.
In his own words:
Herb started piano lessons at 7 years old with Marie Budde, of Littlestown, during the years of 1936-1943. He was a "Soda Jerk" at Howard Stonesifer's Drugstore from 1944 through 1947. He graduated from Littlestown High School in 1947. Herb worked with his father, John N. Sell, learning the paper hanging trade from 1947 through 1949. He then attended Shippensburg College from 1949 through 1950. During these early years, Herb specialized in playing Boogie Woogie and Jazz piano styles. Before joining the Air Force in 1950, Herb played in many orchestras, quartets, trios, and as a soloist. In September of 1950, Herb auditioned at Bowling Air Force Base, Washington D.C. with several other pianists and was chosen to be the pianist for the Music Department of the Army and Air Force Special Services Department. During this time, he met many celebrities and played for 14 Army and Air Force shows. He was  sometimes listed in the programs as "Assistant Director". Although Herb was in the Air Force, he was always on detached service with the Army for most of his service career and played with the Army Orchestra. As the Korean War came to a close, Herb finally got back to the Air Force for a few months. He played trombone in the band and piano in the orchestra while stationed at Pinecastle A.F.B. near Orlando, Florida. In 1952, he married the "love of his life" Eleanor Salter of Indianapolis, Indiana. Eleanor loved music and she remained his lifetime inspiration. After being discharge from the military, they decided to make their home in Herb's hometown of Littlestown, PA. Herb enrolled as a music major at Western Maryland College in Westminster, MD. and began his studies on February 1, 1954. Upon graduation January 31, 1957, Herb was hired by the Carroll County Board of Education on February 1, 1957 as the music educator and
choral director at Westminster High School, Westminster, MD. Herb received his Master's degree in Music in 1964 from the University of Maryland. During his career at Westminster High School, he was responsible for bringing many musical celebrities to the school, which included Duke Ellington (twice), Count Basie, Woody Herman, Les Brown, Maynard Ferguson, Fred Waring (twice), Jester Hairston (five times), and Dick Hyman, the famous New York City jazz pianist (five times). Most of his WHS student Choral Concerts featured 140-150 students. Herb retired from teaching music at Westminster High School in 1992.
In 1970, Herb was asked to be the director of the newly-formed Carroll County Choral Society. It was a thrilling experience for the Carroll County Choral Society to be selected by the 21 member Maryland Bicentennial Commission to represent the State of Maryland at the Philadelphia celebration entitled "A Salute to the States" on Maryland's appointed day, Saturday, July 31st, 1976. Herb continued to successfully direct the Carroll County Choral Society until 2005. During a very busy schedule, Herb also directed the choir and was organist at St. Mary's U.C.C. in Silver Run, MD from 1954-1971. He then became the choir director at Redeemer's U.C.C. in Littlestown, PA from 1971 until Christmas Eve, 2023. During all of these years from 1954-2023, Herb still played Jazz piano for many occasions in different towns, cities and states.
One of the highlights of our Dad's career was when he received a kiss on the cheek from Duke Ellington in 1969. 2 weeks prior to Duke Ellington arriving at Westminster High School to perform, he visited the White House during Richard Nixon's tenure. He gave the President a kiss on the cheek. When Dad was meeting "The Duke" for the first time, the high school photographer said to Mr. Ellington, "How about giving Herb a kiss on the cheek?" The kiss occurred immediately and the picture was taken!
Our Dad was enamored by Duke Ellington since he was 14 years old. He emulated his music his whole life. When Duke Ellington died in 1974, Dad was devastated and sobbed.
Fraternal Order of Eagles, The American Legion, VFW, Hanover ELKS, Littlestown Lions Club, Westminster Honorary Rotarian, Federation of Musicians (A.F.M), Lancaster Local 294, Littlestown Fish and Game, and Littlestown Fire Company Alpha#1
The family will receive friends for Herb's viewing from 2-7 pm Friday, February 2, 2024 at Bethel Assembly of God 1125 Frederick Pike, Littlestown PA 17340. The funeral will be on Saturday, February 3, 2024 10:00 am at Bethel Assembly of God with Pastor Sterling Fritz officiating .  Interment is private.
Pallbearers will be Christopher Sell, Derek Sell, Jordan Taylor, Jason Jones, Jeffrey Cole, and William Eshelman
Contributions may be to a charity of one's choice.
Online condolences may be shared at
"Music is how I live and how I will be remembered..."
 ~ Duke Ellington

Thank you Dad, for making your family so incredibly proud.

Janis Miller WHS class of 73
Feb 5th, 2024 7:55 pm
My sincerest condolences. Great Man.
Alvin "John" Groft, Jr.
Feb 3rd, 2024 4:24 pm
Herb was my piano teacher 1954 thru 1958, yes, even while he was attending Western Maryland College. He was a special inspiration and encouraged me to continue to grow with all piano music. He was one of my 5 heroes. Our Groft deepest sympathy to his family and friends.
Feb 2nd, 2024 10:39 pm
Sue Warner
Feb 2nd, 2024 4:19 am
My deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Mr. Herbert Sell. 

He was a wonderful man and a great music teacher.  We at Westminster High School were blessed to have him as our music teacher.  Thank you Mr. Sell for introducing us to great musical artists like Jester Hairston, Count Basie and Duke Ellington and for giving us the gift of music.  God bless you.
Maura Sellman Sheridan-Walther
Feb 1st, 2024 11:10 pm
Heartfelt sympathy to Herb's family. I recall sitting expectantly on the wooden auditorium seats in 1969 as Herb brought Duke Ellington's genius to life in a remarkable concert. Herb showcased and complemented, with his own
talent, the musical "greats" that a small town high school would never have seen otherwise. Herb, your development of talent and musicianship in others were selflessly shared, and live on.
Barbara Driver
Feb 1st, 2024 4:41 pm
I met Herb when I visited his sister Janet in 1976. He invited me to his house where he had all his pianos and he played each one for me so I could hear all the different sounds. He has sent me tapes of his music over the 70 years I have been Janet’s penfriend from England and I will continue to play them to remind me what a remarkable musician and person he was. Heaven can now enjoy his music.
Betty bucher
Jan 31st, 2024 5:49 pm
Not many people leave this world so loved and respected as Herb Sell. God gave him a special gift and he used it well. He will rest in heaven now with his love Eleanor
Andy Levy
Jan 31st, 2024 3:26 pm
My deepest condolences to the Sell family. I'm a Westminster High School alum (class of 1990). I was in the chorus from 1987-1990. I never thought I'd want to stay and only took chorus because I needed a fine arts credit and couldn't draw or play an instrument. Little did I know that meeting Daddy, as we all called him for his penchant for calling the guys in class Daddy or Daddio, would be the start of my lifelong love of singing. He made class fun and I always looked forward to our Christmas and spring shows each year. I will always remember him and he will always have a special place in my heart.
Betty Stem
Jan 31st, 2024 3:06 am
To Herb's Family
I have known Herb since 1961. He was my music teacher at WHS. I sang in the chorus and in a sextet during my time with Herb. In 2010, I joined the Carroll County Singers with Herb as our director. He has been our choir director at Redeemers United Church of Christ until his retired, in December 2023. I loved and respected this amazing man more than words can say. Rest in peace, Herb. You lived a wonderful life! ❤️
Wendy (Reynolds) Study
Jan 30th, 2024 10:58 pm
A truly remarkable man leaving an everlasting mark on earth with his music and making his listeners so happy! He was one dad’s favorite friends. I know he will have a special in heaven.
Barbara Jenkins
Jan 30th, 2024 1:48 pm
A kind, gentle, man. It was always my pleasure to see you Herb.
Mayor Jim Eline ,sr
Jan 30th, 2024 1:30 pm
Littlestown has lost great and loved member of our small town. Rest in peace Herb and play for all up there.
Jan 30th, 2024 1:45 am
You have my sincerest condolences. He will be missed.
Marilyn and Scott Zanger
Jan 30th, 2024 1:09 am
Sincere sympathy to all the family. We enjoyed his music and his friendship, May memories comfort you and know that his music will live on.
Rose Aumen
Jan 30th, 2024 12:51 am
My deepest sympathy to you and your family. You were a wonderful daughter to Herb. You took great care of him and he will always be with you in your heart.
Marty Sentz Beverage
Jan 29th, 2024 9:32 pm
I am so sorry. Peace be with the entire family!

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