BOWLING GREEN — Ilana Joy Iwens Kennell of Bowling Green, a retired University of Toledo piano teacher of national acclaim, died Wednesday at Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center. She was 66.
She suffered a stroke after a long bout with multiple sclerosis, her husband of 43 years, Richard Kennell, said. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the early 1990s.
Mrs. Kennell retired on disability as a UT senior lecturer of music in 2010 after about 20 years of teaching piano at the UT Department of Music.
“Ilana was a fine pianist, a dedicated classroom teacher, and an excellent, thoughtful colleague. ... She was a wonderful colleague who cared deeply about her students… and the department as a whole,” Lee Heritage, a UT associate professor of music, said, adding that she was “a friendly, compassionate person.”
Before joining the UT faculty, Mrs. Kennell at different times taught piano at Bowling Green State University, the University of Findlay, and the University of Wisconsin Summer Music Institute.
She was also a former faculty member at the Interlochen Arts Camp in northern Michigan, where she taught piano at summer camps from the mid-1990s through the mid-2000s.
Additionally, Mrs. Kennell performed as a collaborative pianist in the Bowling Green and Toledo areas.
She had also performed on National Public Radio, recorded contemporary chamber music with the Access and Orion labels, and won a piano ensemble competition.
In 2003, the Ohio Music Teachers Association named her the Northwest Ohio District teacher of the year. Two years later, OMTA and Music Teachers National Association jointly recognized her as a nationally certified college teacher of the year.
“She did not let multiple sclerosis define her. She continued to perform and even developed new creative talents as an artist and jewelry maker. She inspired people ... [including her] former students,” said Mr. Kennell, a former dean of the College of Musical Arts at Bowling Green State University.
Mrs. Kennell was born April 19, 1952, in Milwaukee to Sidney and Edith Iwens, Holocaust survivors from Lithuania.
In 1970, she graduated from Shorewood High School in Shorewood, Wis., and went to Northwestern University, from which she graduated in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in piano. She then got a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1975, also in piano.
“People described her as gentle and loving. And that was true. She was also determined. If she wanted to do something, she accomplished it no matter what obstacles she faced,” her husband said.
In her free time, Mrs. Kennell did watercolors and made jewelry — usually of silver and beads. She also enjoyed swimming.
Mrs. Kennell was a longtime member at Temple Shomer Emunim, Sylvania.
Surviving are her sons, Jonathan and Aaron Kennell; sister, Judy Eidelson; and three grandchildren.
A memorial service will be at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the temple.
Arrangements are by the Robert H. Wick/ Wisniewski Funeral Home.
The family suggests tributes to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society or the University of Toledo Department of Music.
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