Donald E. Gais was an accomplished pianist who played with leading jazz musicians in Europe and the United States before becoming music director at Emmanuel Baptist Church here.
The Duane Avenue resident died Wednesday (Oct. 9, 1996) in Mount St. Mary's Hospital, Lewiston, after a lengthy illness. He was 77.
A native of Niagara Falls, Gais attended local schools, then joined the U.S. Army, serving in World War II. After he was discharged in 1945, he toured Europe for 23 years, playing with such jazz greats as Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden and the Delta Rhythm Boys.
Gais also played in the first jazz festival in Nice, France, after World War II. He studied at Juilliard School of Music in New York City and the Amsterdam and Paris conservatories of music.
He was active with the Paul Robeson Theater in Buffalo and was the musical director for such productions there as "Ain't Misbehavin,' " "One Mo' Time" and "Stompin' at the Savoy."
During the late 1980s, Gais was featured regularly as a pianist at St. George's Table in Buffalo, and he played for many special events at the Center for Tomorrow at the University at Buffalo. He served as music director at the church, of which he was a member, since 1980.
Survivors include his wife of 12 years, the former Wanda Hayden; a son, Donald D. of Amherst; two daughters, Cherie Lee Taylor of La Jolla, Calif., and Dominique of Paris; a stepson, Leeverne of Holland; five stepdaughters, Jacqueline Reed of Cincinnati, Patrice Woods of Clarksville, Tenn., Karen Smith, Thresa Holland and Janice Longboat.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday in Emmanuel Baptist Church, 3118 Hyde Park Blvd. Burial will be in Riverdale Cemetery, Lewiston.