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Published: Saturday, 6/28/2014 - Updated: 2 months ago

Wendall Jones; 1932-2014: BGSU prof, jazz player became city councilman

BY STEPHEN GRUBER-MILLER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
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Wendell Jones, a former Bowling Green State University music professor and jazz performer, Bowling Green City Council member, and lawyer, died June 17 in Wood County Hospital of complications following surgery, his wife, Carol, said. He was 82.

He was a well-known percussionist locally and an expert at the marimba and vibraphone.

He played with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, the Xavier Cugat band and performed with groups that toured with stars including Melissa Manchester, Frankie Laine, Bob Hope, Glen Campbell, and Harry Belafonte.

“Since he was a little kid he just loved music,” Mrs. Jones said. The two were married in 1967, the same time Mr. Jones got his teaching job at BGSU, where he taught until 1992.

Chris Buzzelli, a colleague in the college of musical arts at BGSU, recalled that Mr. Jones would play impromptu sets with musicians visiting the university, and he always had a new piece of music to share.

“Wendell was very passionate about music,” Mr. Buzzelli said. “He’d always have something he wanted you to listen to.”

Mr. Jones was influential in creating BGSU’‍s jazz program at a time when jazz was not commonly taught. He brought numerous performing artists to campus starting in the early 1970s.

He graduated from Ohio State University with a bacehlor’s in music education in 1953, received his master’s degree from the University of Colorado in 1970, and finished law school at the University of Toledo in 1985.

Following his retirement from BGSU he began a second career as a lawyer, mostly at the appeals court in Toledo. He served as acting assistant prosecutor for Perrysburg in 1988.

He also served two terms on the Bowling Green City Council where he fought for better inspections and maintenance of student housing and rental units.

“I really admired how somebody could have such a successful career in one thing and then just turn around and have another successful career,” Mr. Buzzelli said.

In 2001, Mr. Jones embarked on another project, recording a jazz CD with his longtime trio including Mr. Buzzelli on guitar and Jeff Halsey on bass.

Mrs. Jones said her husband loved to impart knowledge. “He just had a gift for talking, not only to his friends, but to his students, to attorneys,” she said.

And he never lost appreciation for his experiences.

“He was just so grateful that he had the opportunity to play and to teach at the university and to go to law school,” Mrs. Jones said.

He was born Jan. 25, 1932, in Dayton to James and Eva Jones.

Surviving are his wife, Carol; daughter, Janet Jones; stepson, Jack Brinker, and brother, James Jones.

A memorial service is at 10 a.m. today in Trinity United Methodist Church, Bowling Green.

Dunn Funeral Home Bowling Green is handling arrangements.

The family suggests tributes to the Wood County Hospital Rehabilitation Center.

Contact Stephen Gruber-Miller at: smiller@theblade.com, 419-724-6050, or on Twitter @sgrubermiller.



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