Emily Gottschalk spent her life quietly supporting music.
The family name has become synonymous with music edu- cation in Modesto thanks to the Gottschalk Music Center, which she and her husband, the late John F. Gottschalk, opened 57 years ago.
Mrs. Gottschalk died Monday after a long battle with Alz- heimer's disease. She was 89.
"(My parents) were strong advocates of school music programs," said C.K. Gottschalk, 73, the couple's eldest son, who runs the Modesto store.
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"She wasn't vocal; she wasn't a lobbyist; she was quiet, unassuming. She was in the background but supportive of the band directors and the kids in the music programs."
Born in New Jersey, Mrs. Gottschalk grew up in a farming family in Michigan. As a student she took trombone lessons from John Gottschalk and the couple married in 1936.
They opened a music store in Michigan and pursued their other interest, flying, by opening the Gottschalk School of Aeronautics.
During World War II, they were hired as civilian employees teaching trainees for what later became the Air Force.
"Mother flew; she flew at the urging of Dad," C.K. Gottschalk said. "But Dad had pushed Mother ahead of him, so she got more pay (from the military) because she had more certificates."
In 1951, the couple moved to Modesto and opened the Gotts- chalk Music Center in the old Gilbert Roach Piano Store on J Street (now the block occupied by Slater's Home Furnishings).
A year later the center moved to its current Burney Street location.
While the pair at first ran the store together, Mr. Gottschalk left to resume public school teaching. Mrs. Gottschalk took over day-to-day duties and was a constant presence in the store until retiring in the mid-1990s.
Longtime family friend Ray Hamilton, a retired music teacher, met Mrs. Gottschalk in 1955 when he walked into the store and asked if they could use a private music instructor.
"I went down and told them I had a family of five boys who needed shoes," he said. "Mrs. Gottschalk said, 'If you have students who would like to come here, you are more than welcome.' Bless her heart."
Hamilton, who also taught music at La Loma Junior High for 27 years, gave private lessons at the center until 1968.
His late wife, Iky, became best friends with Mrs. Gottschalk and the couples were neighbors.
"Her life was two things: her family and her store," he said. "She would leave the office and had a leather bag with all the contracts she took home each night. Her store was closed, but she wasn't. She was a hard worker."
The center specializes in selling, renting and repairing instruments and accessories for school bands and orchestras. It also sponsors music events and offers workshops and lessons.
C.K. Gottschalk said his mother knew most of the area school music directors by sight and was on a first-name basis with many parents and other customers.
"Our main effort was to provide the opportunity to the young kids, the beginners, to play music at as reasonable a price as possible," he said.
The Gottschalks also kept up with their flying, founding the Center Flight Club in Modesto and running flight schools until Mr. Gottschalk's death in 1980.
The couple had five children. She was preceded in death by her husband and daughter Joanne Gottschalk-Washburn.
She is survived by her brother, John Bobon of Hudson, Mich.; children, C.K. Gotts- chalk of Oakdale, Robert Gottschalk of Stockton, Kathryn Holloway of Turlock and Terilynn Gonchar of Modesto; and six grandchildren.
A public visitation will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday and 12:30 to 2 p.m. Monday at Lakewood Memorial Park in Hughson. A private service will follow the morning visitation.
Remembrances can be made to the Emily Gottschalk Scholarship Fund, Modesto Junior College, 435 College Ave, Modesto 95350.
Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2284.