Tuesday, September 10, 2002


Trumpet player began local German band

By Nicole Hamilton nhamilton@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Orval Wray's trumpet was always close at hand.

        As a child, he played alongside his mother, a violin player, at their Methodist church. Then, as a struggling college student at Purdue University, he founded a dance band to earn money for tuition.

        As an adult, Mr. Wray founded the Sauerkraut German Band, a 20-piece ensemble that performs each year at Oktoberfests on both sides of the Ohio River.

        Mr. Wray died Friday at his residence of congestive heart failure. The longtime Hartwell resident was 89.

        “I used to say to him, "No wonder you're always happy - you're a music man. There's music around you all the time,' ” said his daughter, Penny Tressler of Hartwell. “None of us ever heard him say a negative word. He's someone to emulate.”

        Mr. Wray, a chemical engineer, founded the Sauerkraut German Band in 1973.

        The band performs each year at Cincinnati and Covington Oktoberfests, as well as at nursing homes and hotels. Any extra money the band earns goes to charity.

        Mr. Wray directed the band until his retirement last year.

        Raised in Lafayette, Ind., Mr. Wray graduated from Purdue University in 1936 with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering. He moved to Chicago that year and met his future wife, Lillian Freund - a Frankfurt, Germany, native - whom he married in 1937.

        The family moved to Arkansas, where Mr. Wray served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. He was honorably discharged from active duty in 1945, but remained in the active reserve.

        The Wrays moved to Cincinnati in 1946, and Mr. Wray opened his first Ben Franklin five-and-dime store. For more than 20 years, Mr. Wray and his two brothers owned and operated Ben Franklin stores in Mount Lookout, Lockland, Elmwood Place, Evanston and Bellevue.

        He sold the stores in 1973, and took a job in foreign technologies at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Mr. Wray retired in 1983 as a lieutenant colonel.

        He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1042 and the Syrian Temple Shrine.

        His wife died in 1985.

        Besides his daughter Penny, survivors include three other daughters, Virginia “Ginny” Bushman of Madeira, Anita “Nita” Dahl of Moore Park, Calif., and Jeanette “Jinx” Horgan of Santa Barbara, Calif., and Green Township; two sisters, Miriam Bischettsreder of Santa Maria, Calif., and Janette Blocker of Traverse City, Mich., and Blue Ash; eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

        Visitation is 9 to 11 a.m. today at Vorhis Funeral Home, 11365 Springfield Pike, Springdale. Services are 11 a.m. today at the funeral home.Entombment will be in Vine Street Hill Mausoleum, St. Bernard.


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