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Joyce Gwinner

1928 - 2012 Obituary Condolences
(News article) A piano teacher for decades who with her late husband, Donald, played organ at churches in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan, Joyce Gwinner died Wednesday in Ebeid Hospice Residence, Toledo. She was 83.

She had congestive heart failure and dealt with complications of diabetes, her son Wayne said.

She retired after she played organ at Christmas Mass, 2007, in St. Joseph Church, Monroe. Her husband died the year before. They were organists for more than a decade at St. Joseph.

"They worked as a team for many years. They were a close couple," said the Rev. William Fisher, pastor of St. Joseph. "She and her husband were consummate musicians."

Their son said: "When my father died, part of her died. They didn't do anything if they didn't do it together.

"I grew up with two pianos and two organs in the house."

Before St. Joseph, she was organist for Second Baptist Church and for more than 20 years at St. Agnes Church, both in Toledo. She and husband were substitute organists at area churches and were called frequently for funerals.

"People all over Toledo remember Joyce Gwinner," said Father Fisher, who got to know the couple more than 50 years ago in the Toledo Opera chorus. "She was bubbly and charming. She fit in very well in Monroe."

The couple also taught piano, although she mostly taught in their West Toledo home, and he mostly went to students' homes.

"You better love it to do that job. Their schedule was so sporadic," their son said. "Working as a musician, it's constant."

She didn't take students who were much younger than 8. She could be strict as she emphasized basics: arched hands, proper posture. Her students learned to read music as they learned to play, and she asked that they practice no less than 45 minutes a day.

"She was very thorough," her son said. "It just came from the heart. She loved what she did."

And when she found free time, she retreated to her home piano.

"She couldn't play the piano enough. That was her time to herself," her son said.

She was a former accompanist to the Community Singers. She and her husband also were in the Toledo Opera chorus into the 1970s, performing in such works as La Traviata, Aida, Turandot, and Die Fledermaus.

She was a member of the Toledo chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society. She also belonged to the local piano teachers association and the American Guild of Organists.

She formerly sold Avon products.

She also was a member of the National Rifle Association. For several years, shooting at a range was a family pastime. The couple was introduced to the sport by their late son Warren, who was a first lieutenant in the Army.

She was born Sept. 12, 1928, to Hilda and Frank Weiss. She grew up in Point Place and was a 1946 graduate of Waite High School. Afterward, she studied at the Sherwood Conservatory of Music in Chicago.

Surviving are her sons, Joseph and Wayne.

Visitation will be from 5-8 p.m. Sunday and from 2-8 p.m. Monday in the Blanchard-Strabler Funeral Home. Services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Joseph Church, Monroe, where the body will be after 10 a.m.

The family suggests tributes to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis.

Contact Blade staff writer Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.
Published in Toledo Blade on Apr. 13, 2012
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