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Published: Monday, 4/19/2010

WWII vet sold pianos, organs, wrote poetry

BY JIM SIELICKI
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Robert A. Brenner, a business owner who sold pianos and organs in Buffalo and Toledo and served on a committee to replace the Lucas County jail, died Thursday at Hospice of Northwest Ohio in Perrysburg.

He was 92 and his death was heart-related, his daughter Elizabeth Hodges said.

Mr. Brenner enlisted in the Army during World War II and served with the Air Corps in the European Theater, repairing aircraft.

A wartime buddy, Otis Block, said he and Mr. Brenner spent nearly 39 months in "a MASH unit for sick airplanes." They were in North Africa, Italy, France, Germany, and England before Mr. Brenner was sent home ill, Mr. Block said.

Mr. Brenner returned to Toledo and took a job as a railroad engineer, following in his father's footsteps, Mrs. Hodges said.

"It was hard work," she said, and the hours were terrible.

His love of music led him to start Brenner Music Co.

An opportunity to open a music store developed in Buffalo. But he wanted to return to his hometown and closed the New York shop and opened a store in downtown Toledo, she said.

"He always loved music. He taught himself to play," Mrs. Hodges said.

The death of his 16-year-old son, Mark, in 1968 led to his decision to retire at age 51, Mrs. Hodges said, noting he "had no desire to work any longer."

He soon became bored, and after driving buses for the Maumee schools, he volunteered for a committee that worked in the late 1960s and early 1970s to replace the Lucas County jail.

"He put his efforts into that," she said. "He was very, very proud of that.

He found time to write poetry and had a book of his poems published, his daughter said.

Mr. Block, a former Bowling Green resident who lives in Seattle, said Mr. Brenner "had a lot of talent in many different areas," including as a songwriter.

Mr. Block said Mr. Brenner was in New York waiting to ship out overseas when Mr. Brenner took a song he had written and gave it to Doris Day to see if she would help get it published.

Mr. Brenner and his wife Ellen were married for 57 years when she died.

Surviving are daughters, Elizabeth Hodges and Kathleen Iler; three grandchildren, and a great-grandson.

Visitation is at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Maison-Dardenne-Walker Funeral Home, where the funeral is at 1 p.m. The family suggests tributes to St. Jude's Children's Hospital.

Contact: Jim Sielicki at:

jsielicki@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050



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