NewsPositively Milwaukee


'She smiles the whole time': Senior musician keeps the music alive for her neighbors

Posted at 6:02 AM, Oct 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-12 07:17:16-04

Music is food for the soul.

A woman living at Howard Village Senior Community knows that from personal experience.

Every week at Howard Village’s cocktail hour, you’ll hear Judy Kasza playing piano for her neighbors.

“I play music here that people have grown up with and have been used to having all their lives,” Judy says.

Executive Director Lori Paczkowski says these performances became especially popular during the pandemic.

“The joy that she brought to these residents who are isolated for such a long time, it was just wonderful,” Lori says.

But afternoon cocktail hours aren’t how Judy got her musical start.

“I’ve been playing trumpet for 70 years,” she says.

Judy’s musical career began when she was just a teenager. After high school, she heard about the US Women’s Air Force Band.

“That got me really interested and I thought, ‘Okay, sign me up!’”

For the next 2 ½ years, Judy’s life was a whirlwind.

“It was a wonderful experience because we traveled all over the country, from coast to coast, and to Alaska and Puerto Rico,” she says.

Judy got married and moved with her husband to Milwaukee after she got out of the Air Force. But she kept playing – for her local church and with the senior chorus called The Wilsoneers. She joined an Honor Guard and played taps for military funerals.

“In 1987, I went to the first reunion of the WAF Band,” Judy recalls.

For 21 years, Judy and her bandmates would reunite to play concerts for the public and the military.

“The last concert was held in Washington DC at the Kennedy Center at the Millennium Stage, so we went out with a bang!” Judy says.

And it’s obvious to anyone watching, Judy still gets a lot of joy from playing.

“She smiles the whole time she plays, she really does,” says Lori. “You can tells she’s in her element.”

For Judy, it’s simple:

“Music has been my life.”

Report a typo or error // Submit a news tip