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James Dwight Schanilec "Jimmy"

January 19, 1944 October 9, 2019
James Dwight Schanilec "Jimmy"
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Obituary for James Dwight Schanilec "Jimmy"

James Dwight “Jimmy” Schanilec passed away October 9th, 2019 at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Grand Island, Nebraska.

Jim was born in Elmhurst, Illinois to James and Anne Schanilec on January 19, 1944.

He began his “musical journey” at a young age studying piano, trombone, and accordion.  He created his first Dixieland Band, “The Comets” at the age of 12.   He graduated from Downers Grove High School in 1962.   He graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education in 1967, where he was a student of the Chicago Symphony trombonist Frank Crisafulli.  Following graduation, Jim taught instrumental music in Iron River, Michigan.

Jim served his country in the United States Air Force SAC Band at Offutt AFB, Omaha 1968 – 1972.  He was a member of various Air Force ensembles, including the SAC Brass Quintet and Jazz Band.

Jim was the principal trombonist in the Omaha Symphony for 38 years.  He was a member of the Odyssey Brass Quintet, which performed in-school educational programs, and toured with the Nebraska Arts Council performing community concerts and workshops.  Jim also taught trombone students at UNO for a few years.

His “gift of music” as a performer on multiple instruments, and arranger was shared as he played with many well-known bands in the Chicago, Omaha, and Midwest area.  Jim recorded with Mannheim Steamroller,  C.W. McCall, Rumbles, Ltd. , and others. He was a member of many groups, and most recently The Street Railway Co. Dixieland Jazz Band. 

Jim was preceded in death by his parents, James & Anne Schanilec, and his sister, Linda (Shoemaker).  He is survived by his sister Lynn (Jim) Kaiser of Hastings and his niece, Christine (Mark) Niemeyer of Hastings and nephews Jason Kaiser and Nathan Kaiser of Lincoln, NE.

Jimmy lived his life with humbleness and as a mentor and friend.  He had a “joke” for anyone he saw, and was quick to make friends and put a smile on your face!

Our hearts are saddened by Jim’s passing, but rejoice in the music he is making in Heaven!  He will be missed by a multitude of friends, students, musicians, and all who knew him.  He left a profound lasting impression through his music by touching so many lives.

Jim chose cremation and there will be no services. A private family blessing will be held, and a  “Celebration of Life” will be held at a later date in Omaha.   Memorial donations can be directed to the Omaha Symphony Music Education Programs.

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