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Weirton Steel Chorus director remembered

February 26, 2011
By ANGELINA DICKSON Special to the Brooke Scene

WEIRTON - Family, friends and community members are mourning the death of William "Bill" Niesslein, former director of the Weirton Steel Chorus.

Niesslein, who died on Feb. 14, was stationed in Germany and served in World War II from 1944 to 1946 and served two years as an enlisted soldier before his honorable discharge.

In 1952 Niesslein was hired full-time by Weirton Steel and for 56 years, after joining the all-male chorus in 1952, he became the chorus director for the Weirton Steel Chorus.

Niesslein received a degree in music education from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and served as the assistant band director and vocal instructor for Weir High School. During that time, he continued his musical education at the former West Liberty State College and former College of Steubenville.

He also studied voice with the late Robert Topping, noted tenor and teacher at the Pittsburgh Music Institute.

Judy Corwin, Niesslein's daughter, said under his direction, members of the Weirton Steel Chorus were molded into a vocal group that has earned praise in music circles across the country.

The Weirton Steel Chorus performed many times at annual conventions of the National Canners Association in places such as Chicago, Atlantic City, and Washington, D.C.

It also performed at the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, the Mountain State Forest Festival in Elkins, and presented a special concert at the Governor's Mansion in Charleston, she said.

"Music was so much of his life and our lives," she said.

Niesslein also directed the male choral group to perform hundreds of local concerts for various civic and church groups free of charge.

Other performances include those at the Wheeling Symphony, the Weirton Community Center's Renaissance Festival, and the former Weirton International Food & Arts Festival.

Niesslein was inducted into the inaugural class of the Weirton Hall of Fame and his plaque will also be displayed.

Visitation at Greco-Hertnick Funeral Home was followed by burial at St. Paul Cemetery.

Corwin said much of the services would pay tribute to her father's life and his work, with each family member reading, singing or playing music and his trumpet and music stand displayed.

She added Niesslein would be placed in the ground in the tuxedo he wore to every performance.

Corwin said so many people throughout the community have been wonderful and very helpful throughout the time of Niesslein's decline in health and said no words will ever be able to express the gratitude of the family.

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