East Palestine family will share love of music with library patrons

Submitted photo Jenny Rukenbrod with her father, Pete Rukenbrod (left), and brother Fritz Rukenbrod and his wife Wendy on June 5 at the East Palestine Public Library. The Rukenbrod family dedicated a keyboard to the library.

EAST PALESTINE — The Rukenbrod family has a long history of musical talent, dating back to when the late Pauline Rukenbrod played piano for silent movies at the East Palestine movie theater.

Her son, Pete Rukenbrod, would play trombone in the Salem High School marching band, and went on to learn to love the piano just the same.

On June 5, his 90th birthday, Pete Rukenbrod and his family dedicated a keyboard to the East Palestine Public Library with the hope that it will inspire others to also cultivate a love for music.

“My dad has been entertaining people in the area for over 70 years and we just hope that music will live on through our donation and hopefully inspire others,” his daughter Jenny Rukenbrod said.

The Rukenbrods were raised in East Palestine and Pete Rukenbrod remains a local resident.

Jenny Rukenbrod remembers her grandmother living just a block away from the library and seeing how important it was to both her and her father.

“She loved the library and she was a big reader. The library played a big role in my youth and in her life. Now my dad goes to the library and gets books on CD or tape,” Jenny Rukenbrod said.

Growing up, Pete Rukenbrod learned to play music by ear and spent time playing in area bands and orchestras. He even had a band himself at one point.

Jenny Rukenbrod said that to this day her father still goes and plays piano at nursing homes and other places.

Pete Rukenbrod and library board president Jim Wilson performed together during the dedication ceremony at the library on June 5.

Wilson and Pete Rukenbrod “go away back as fellow musicians,” Jenny Rukenbrod said.

The piano dedication was also a way for Jenny and her brother Fritz Rukenbrod to honor their father and his musical legacy in the area.

Library Director Tamra Hess said the board is open to suggestions on how the piano can be used at the library in addition to being available to those who don’t have their own pianos at home.

The Rukenbrods also provided the library with a set of headphones that can be plugged into the Yamaha weighted keyboard so that it can be played without disrupting other library patrons.

“We are open to all sorts of ideas as far as using the piano in the building. Mr. Rukenbrod is a great patron of the library. We are pleased that the family decided to gift it to us so we are looking forward to using it in the future,” Hess said.

In addition to being available for patrons, Hess said the library may use the keyboard for fundraising events or its Christmas party, since several board and staff members are also musicians.