By Nicole Hamilton
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Vernon F. Wahle formed his first big band in the 1930s, when a tuxedo cost $9. He was still a student at Norwood High School, but that didn't stop the orchestra - called Verne Wahle and the Musical Dons - from playing ballrooms and nightclubs around Cincinnati.
A bout with tuberculosis interrupted his performing, and sent him to Dunham Hospital in Price Hill for 17 months. There, he composed the music to Norwood High School's alma mater.
Mr. Wahle died Friday at Bethesda North Hospital of pneumonia.
The Milford resident was 90.
Also a successful commercial and industrial photographer, there were times when he had to juggle his two careers.
"I sometimes took photographs while wearing my tux to be ready for my next night of band rehearsing," Mr. Wahle once told the Tri-County Press.
His music career started early, when he was a Boy Scout attending Williams Avenue School. He played the bugle every morning and afternoon for the raising and lowering of the flag.
At Norwood High School, he was given a trombone to play in the high school band. Later, he took music lessons at the Conservatory of Music.
He eventually established The Verne Wahle Orchestra, a 14-piece band that played at places all over Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, including Coney Island Moonlight Gardens, The Hotel Alms Grand Ballroom and the Beverly Hills Supper Club.
"They were all over town," said his wife of 21 years, Jeanne Straight Wahle of Milford. "They played for sororities and fraternities at universities, debutante balls and high school proms."
"People liked that he could always say something very witty at the right time," she continued.
From the early 1940s until 1975, Mr. Wahle worked as a commercial photographer, starting at Brand Studios. He later worked at McHale Studios.
He started the annual Dixieland church service at the Wyoming Presbyterian Church in 1984.
Mr. Wahle was elected into the Wyoming Senior Citizen's Hall of Fame in 1993.
His brother, Chester, preceded him in death.
Besides his wife, survivors include two sons, David F. Wahle of Clifton, and Donald C. Wahle, of Indianapolis.
Visitation will be 2-3 p.m. Tuesday at Evans Funeral Home, 741 Center St., Milford. Service will follow.
Memorials may be made to the Milford First United Methodist Church, 541 Main St., Milford, 45150.
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