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Published: Wednesday, 6/8/2005

Music educator played for GIs with Hope, Kaye

FINDLAY - Joe Windau, 76, a pianist who for decades taught the art and theory of music and as a performer entertained northwest Ohio audiences, died from complications of cancer on Friday in the Veterans Administration Hospital, Ann Arbor.

Whether a student was 5 or 80, Mr. Windau's aim was to inspire.

"He just loved music, and he liked sharing his gift," his daughter, Barbara Sharrer said.

His son, George, said: "He got a certain freshness and joy of life from the young people."

Mr. Windau, a longtime member of Local 4, the American Federation of Musicians, played as a soloist or with a trio or quartet at restaurants and clubs and at weddings and social functions.

He was pleased when diners paid attention and "enjoyed what he enjoyed musically," his son said. "He was a crowd pleaser."

He knew the classics and was captivated by Chopin. But he loved jazz and was fond of pianists Ahmad Jamal and Peter Nero and trumpeter Miles Davis.

Born Leon Joseph Windau, Jr., he was a 1946 graduate of St. Mary Central Catholic High School, Sandusky. He studied at Juilliard and, after Army service in the Korean War, at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. He played piano in an Army band and accompanied noted performers who entertained the troops in Korea, including Bob Hope, Monica Lewis, and Danny Kaye.

Mr. Windau was polite and genteel - and he liked to tell jokes that got laughs because they were so corny, his son said.

He was a Cleveland Indians fan and liked to fix radios, televisions, and cars.

"He was a man who made a living with his hands, yet he wasn't afraid of getting his hands dirty," his son said.

His first wife, Elaine, was killed in a car-train accident in 1953. His former wife, Mary Jo Hindman, survives.

Surviving are his son, George Windau; daughter, Barbara Sharrer; stepson, William Waterson; brothers, James, Thomas, and Robert Windau; sister, Marilyn Smith; four grandchildren, and five step-grandchildren.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. today in St. Michael the Archangel Church, downtown Findlay, of which he was a member. Arrangements are by the Kirkpatrick-Behnke Mortuary.

The family suggests tributes to Cancer Patient Services, Findlay.



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