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Published: Friday, 7/1/2005

Church organist also played piano in supper clubs

Virgina B. Ginny Keller, the organist for First St. Mark s Lutheran Church for nearly 70 years who played the piano in supper clubs on weekends, died Monday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg. The Oregon resident was 89.

The family did not know the cause of death, her granddaughter, Jill Liske, said.

Mrs. Keller played for regular church services, weddings, and funerals for decades. She also played at the Ritz Supper Club, Gulish Villa, and the Rustic Lodge in Michigan.

She loved it, her granddaughter said. That was her life.

Mrs. Keller, who came from a musical family, began playing piano when she was about 9.

If you named a song, she could play it, her granddaughter said. You could hum something, and she could play it back on the piano.

Her nephew, Jim Brower, said she played organ at the church about 50 Sundays a year, often for two services.

You have to imagine, being out on Saturday night playing for a wedding, or at a supper club or lounge, until 2 in the morning, and then getting up for an 8 a.m. service, he said.

Up until three or four years ago, she played for sing-alongs on Friday evenings at the German American Festival hall in Oregon, Mr. Brower said.

In the supper clubs, Mrs. Keller played songs like Bill Bailey and Sentimental Journey, her former daughter-in-law, Linda Nickelsen, said. It was just so much fun, she said.

Mrs. Keller was born April 11, 1916 in Toledo and graduated from Clay High School.

An excellent cook, she made spaghetti sauce and lemon pies for many church dinners. Whenever they had a function, she was making lemon pies, Mrs. Nickelsen said.

She was a member of the German American Festival Society, the Velvetone Choraliers, and the Oregon Jerusalem Historical Society.

Surviving are her daughter, Sandra Carr; son, Wayne Liske; sister, Helen Brower; two grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. today at First St. Mark s Lutheran Church.

The family suggests tributes to the church or the hospice.

Eggleston Meinert Pavley Funeral Home handled the arrangements.

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