Saturday, Apr 21, 2018
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Vendor of pianos ran his store for decades

Robert Nachazel, 81, who sold Toledo-area residents on the dream of beautiful music in the home as owner of Great Lakes Piano and Organ Co., died of cancer Wednesday in the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township.

He bought Great Lakes Piano from his father in 1966. He sold it in 1999 to Michigan-based Evola Music and retired.

Business was booming, and the store sold more grand pianos in a week than it used to in a year, he told The Blade in 1999. "Enough is enough," he said then. ".•.•. It's time to enjoy life a little and spend time with my grandkids."

His father, Harold, founded the store in 1940 as a Baldwin piano dealership. It later sold the Yamaha brand too. The store was at 611 Jefferson Ave. for more than 20 years and moved to 5212 Monroe St. in 1972.

Mr. Nachazel joined in 1950 after he received a business degree from the University of Detroit.

"He said he would go help his dad for a couple years, and he ended up staying forever," daughter Mary Pat Witmer said. "He loved people, and he just loved giving people music."

He didn't play, beyond a few well-placed chords to demonstrate an instrument's sound. But his sales staff did, and at Christmastime the store filled with competing medleys that strung together "Jingle Bells" and "Deck the Halls" with Vince Guaraldi's music from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

He supplied visiting artists with grand pianos, whether Liberace; Andre Watts on the concert stage, or the band accompanying Frank Sinatra.

Born in Detroit, Mr. Nachazel graduated from Central Catholic High School in Toledo a semester early in 1945 so he could join the Navy. World War II was over when he finished basic training.

He was formerly married to the late Kathryn "Cass" Nachazel.

Surviving are his wife, Geraldine "Jeri" Nachazel, whom he married June 20, 1975; daughters, Shannon Tise, Mary Pat Witmer, Katie Kinsey, and Gretchen Nachazel; son, Bob, Jr.; stepdaughters, Lisa Rice and Pamela Croy; sisters, Charlotte Donovan, Margaret Nachazel, and Judy Gerschultz; brother, Thomas Nachazel; 16 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in the Coyle Funeral Home, where the body will be after 3 p.m. today. The family suggests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio.

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