Ed was a trombone player in the MFSO and was President of the Board for over a decade. He died recently on November 15th. His obituary can be found at https://www.harderfuneralhome.com/obituaries/Edward–H-Beale?obId=18984665.
Ed began his music career at the age of 13 when his paternal grandmother and step-grandfather bought him his first trombone. His father played trombone in the high school band in Madison. He immediately took to his instrument and never had to be reminded to practice the mandatory half-hour a day, sometimes practicing for hours. His family moved to West Allis and he joined the Jr. High Band, direct by Henry Canitz. Ed took private lessons from Henry and when the family moved to Milwaukee, he continued his lessons. He played for South Division High School.
Ed was one of four trombone players known as “God’s Trombones” to play at Ascension Lutheran Church for Easter Sunrise services.
Ed joined the Milwaukee Pops Youth band, a group of first and second chair musicians from the greater Milwaukee area. He was a member from ages 15 to 21. He was voted by fellow band members as having the “sweetest tone” in the group.
Later, he became a member of the West Allis, West Milwaukee Civic Band. He played first chair trombone and baritone. After some years he became a member of the Milwaukee Catholic Symphony, now the Menomonee Falls Symphony.
In 1973 he accepted the position as choir director at Bethel Lutheran Church in Muskego. Ed had no choral training but decided he would try it temporarily. This voluntary position lasted for 40 years. He was best known for the Christmas concerts he presented each year with the choir and members of the Menomonee Falls Symphony.
After retiring from being a choir director, he and his wife Kathy joined Mt. Carmel Lutheran Church where he continued to be a member of the choir.
In his younger days, Ed enjoyed bowling on leagues with family members. In the summer, he spent every Sunday morning golfing. Ed’s favorite movie was The Sound of Music.
Written by wife, Kathy
Tributes from the lower brass of the MFSO
I first heard Ed play in 1963 or 1964. He was the lead euphonium player in the Milwaukee Pops Youth Band. He had a big tone and a lyrical style that added a lot to the ensemble. The next time I became involved with Ed was in the early 80’s when he asked me to play trombone in a brass ensemble for an Easter church service at his church in Muskego. Ed directed the choir. The church wasn’t large and the choir wasn’t either, but they were very good! They sang in tune and with great precision – not typical of every choir. This was due to Ed’s teaching and conducting. I was impressed.
The last ten years I’ve been in the Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra, sitting next to Ed. In those ten years I got to know Ed much better than ever before. We had fun at rehearsals and concerts, each of us playing as well as we could (not always perfect). Ed seemed to enjoy my nasty sense of humor and he could give as good as he got. I know Ed loved playing in the orchestra. He gave a lot to the orchestra, both of his time and his money. He was the one who took care of getting the baskets for the brass and percussion sections for the Valentine’s Day concert. We each contributed $20. I know Ed put in quite a bit more. This is just what he did. I thought we would have more years and more concerts playing together. I will miss him.
Mark Gerard, trombone
Ed Beale was one of the first trombonists I met when I moved to Wisconsin in 2003. It was clear from the beginning he was a force of nature. His passion for playing trombone and for the MFSO was so strong and his enthusiasm was contagious. I remember thinking during my first rehearsal that “this guy should be president.” Lo and behold… He took great pride in his ability as a trombonist. Later I would learn that he also was a prominent member and leader of his church choir. Anyone who knew Ed would recognize his booming bass voice from great distances. It made sense that his ability to sing would make him a valuable member of any choral ensemble. As president of the MFSO he worked tirelessly, helping in any way he could. His dedication to the group, and the arts in general, was admirable. Ed also knew how to enjoy himself. During rehearsal, whether it was murmuring musical puns or “dad” jokes to the low brass section or broadcasting those comments for all, he helped keep levity in the group, commandeering his “one man peanut gallery.” He also wouldn’t hesitate to lend a hand whenever anyone needed. With Ed, all you had to do was ask. I think back to our last rehearsal in March, just as the pandemic was beginning. It’s hard to believe that he won’t be sitting in that chair anymore. We all will miss him. Godspeed Ed.
James Gagne, trombone
For as long as I have been in the Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra, Ed led the low brass section. His respect as leader derived both from his ability to seriously guide the section and to also exhibit a sense of humor in the lighter moments. He knew well the orchestral repertoire and could provide direction to the section as needed. When events called for it, he was ever ready with a robust laugh. But probably the action that most affected me was the “good job” that Ed declared to each of us after a performance.
Ed also provided leadership in other areas of musical performance. One of the more harrowing was playing in a wind ensemble while riding on a trailer during the Menomonee Falls Fourth of July parade. Ed organized a group of volunteers to represent the orchestra and also recognize the sponsorship of the Menomonee Falls Festival Corporation. It’s likely none of the other bands were playing excerpts from Carmen or the theme from Masterpiece Theater. The parade itself was quite enjoyable. The return to the staging area at near normal street speeds while trying to hold on to instruments, music stands, and music had its challenging moments.
One other activity in which Ed provided several members of the MFSO the opportunity to participate was the Christmas Cantata at the Bethel Lutheran Church where Ed was the choir director. A chamber orchestra accompanied the church choir to present a very enjoyable Christmas program to the congregation. Rehearsals often had their chaotic moments when Ed was off the podium. But when he was ready to start a piece, all attention turned to Ed. Respect for his musical expertise and his leadership was readily apparent. His contributions to an array of musical endeavors will be deeply missed.
John Sandrik, tuba
From members of the Board of Directors for the MFSO
I’ve known Ed for many years. I remember when he first joined The Milwaukee Catholic Symphony Orchestra, now known as The Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra. Ed brought liveliness to the orchestra, he was not afraid to speak up and make known his thoughts. Somehow, some way, the MFSO Board coerced Ed to join the Board. First, as a general member, next he dabbled as our Treasurer (who made sure our monies were being paid out in the best interest of the Orchestra), and finally, we, the Board Members convinced Ed he would fit the roll of President quite well. During his tenure on the Board, Ed was instrumental in moving the Milwaukee Catholic Symphony to the Falls. In working with Ed on the Board of Directors, he was known to be tenacious, stuck to his point of view, witty, loved a good laugh, and was very good at delegating assignments to Board Members. Ed was the backbone of the MFSO Board of Directors and Trombone Section and proud to make known that the MFSO was a “community” orchestra for all musicians. Ed left this earth too early in life, he will be missed by all.
I joined the MFSO in 2004 and got to know Ed as a trombone player. In 2013, I joined the MFSO board and got to know him as president. He was a kind and generous person. For the valentine concerts he always took care of getting the brass/percussion’s valentine basket for the raffle and they would have the best baskets. He was also a heck of a trombone player and musician that provided a tremendous amount of support for the orchestra. He will be missed.
Ed and I worked on many MFSO projects – some big, some small. The bigger ones included both a name change and location change to become the Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra. This took much leadership and, shall I say, hutzpah! Ed had what was needed and more.
Ed dearly loved music of all kinds: instrumental, choral, solo, classical, jazz, and big band. As many have stated, Ed did have a love for levity, never taking things too seriously, not even himself. He was sensitive to the inner workings of groups so that mission was clear and so that people could work together to accomplish that mission.
Brassy would describe not only his musical contributions (a proud trombonist, willing to hold up the bottom in the orchestra and shine when the orchestrations called for it) but also his personality. Not shy, ever direct and clear, he would make sure he was making a contribution to the world, be it for an orchestra, a band, a church or his wife and family.
Ed did contribute to the MFSO – much, and well! It is a tremendous complement to such a person when it is said that he will leave a hole, not ever to be replaced.