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Brandon music instructor Edward Willcox dies at 96


Published:   |   Updated: July 3, 2013 at 04:06 PM

Edward Willcox, owner of Willcox Academy of Music in Brandon and an accomplished musician and piano instructor, died on Saturday from double pneumonia.

He was 96.

After a broken hip in April, Willcox developed pneumonia, said his daughter Paula Pierce, 59.

"He would have lived to 100 had that not happened, I'm sure," Pierce said.

Willcox was born in Portsmouth, England, and began his music career at 15 during the Big Band era.

He and his family moved to the United States in 1957 and Willcox was hired by the Lowery Organ Co. in Chicago, Ill., where he worked as an electronics engineer with famous guitarist Les Paul to develop a new sound in organs.

In 1969, he moved to Brandon where he met his wife Kay, 70, and they opened Willcox Academy of Music on Parson's Avenue. The academy was later moved to the couples' home on Spring Blossom Court where Willcox taught three generations of musicians.

The couple taught up to 95 kids a week, Pierce said. It wasn't until a couple of years ago that they decided to cut back on the lessons.

"They were spending more time teaching than anything else so they decided to cut back a little bit," Pierce said.

However, they always took summers off to travel around the world, especially to Europe, Pierce said.

"The places they went had to do with music," she said. "They wanted to know about the history of music."

Willcox and Kay had planned to go to England in June.

"He was still telling everybody he was still going this year sometime," Pierce said.

Willcox stopped teaching after his hip surgery so Kay took over his lessons. Pierce said Kay plans to continue to give piano lessons and teach string instruments.

Willcox is survived by his wife Kay; daughters Paula Pierce, of St Petersburg; Chris Wheatley, of Ohio; Anita Smith, of Ohio; and Mandy Willcox, of Ohio; 10 grandchildren; and 15 great grandchildren.

The family held a celebration of his life on Tuesday.

acarroz@tampatrib.com

Twitter: @andrea_carroz

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