Edwin G. Knepper, 87, a former principal trumpeter of the Toledo Symphony and an officer in the musicians' union who was a career business educator, died Monday in his home in Walbridge.
He learned nearly three weeks ago that he had bone cancer, said Eulan Tucker, a longtime friend.
Mr. Knepper still played trumpet in Owens Community College’s concert band.
“Some people just need to make music,” said Marek Moldawsky, also in the Owens band’s trumpet section. “He played very well. It amazed me.”
He learned trumpet as a boy growing up in Bowling Green and later told friends that learning a wind instrument was prescribed as a way to relieve childhood lung problems.
“The rest is history. He became an expert trumpeter,” Mr. Tucker said.
He was born May 17, 1925, in Bowling Green to Grace and Edwin Knepper. While at Bowling Green High School, he won three state scholastic music contests and a national title. He joined the Navy two days after graduation in 1943 and ended up in Adm. William F. Halsey's band, playing in the South Pacific and for USO shows.
After the war, he attended Bowling Green State University, where his father was chairman of the business education department. He received a bachelor’s degree in education from BGSU in 1949 and a master’s degree from the University of Toledo in 1951.
An early teaching job was at Olney School in what is now Northwood. He taught business courses — office practice, typing, sales — at Whitmer High School and devised bookkeeping systems for the Washington Local Schools. He helped establish business technologies as a course of study at what became Owens Community College.
“That came as an influence from his dad,” said Regina LaChine, his niece.
He continued to play throughout his career. While a young teacher, he was a pupil of the first trumpet of the Cleveland Orchestra. He played principal trumpet for the Toledo Symphony and played in the band at the Music Under the Stars series at the Toledo Zoo. He also played in big bands and other ensembles in the Toledo area.
“He was quite accurate,” said Bernie Sanchez, a former principal trumpet of the symphony and a former chairman of the UT music department. “He was one of these guys who had good technique and a good ear.”
Bob Bell, Toledo Symphony president emeritus and chief artistic officer, said: “He was one of the brightest spots of the orchestra.”
Mr. Knepper was principal trumpet when Mr. Bell joined the orchestra as a percussionist. The colleagues later met at the bargaining table, when Mr. Knepper was secretary-treasurer of the Toledo Federation of Musicians, and amicably negotiated contracts.
“As a performer with the orchestra, he had the capacity to understand what we were doing,” Mr. Bell said. “He was a very positive person.”
That carried through to his personal life.
“He was compassionate and gentle,” his niece said. “If you were having a bad day, you could come here and it wasn't so bad anymore.”
He married the former Wilhelmina LaChine on March 21, 1959. She died Aug. 22, 2009.
He was a member of East Christian Church in Oregon.
There are no immediate survivors.
Services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Freck Funeral Home, Oregon, where visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday. Tributes are suggested to Hospice of Northwest Ohio in Perrysburg Township.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: email@example.com or 419-724-6182.
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