Klinton Ervin “Klint” Schlake passed away unexpectedly at the age of 79, September 23, 2015, at Northern Colorado Medical Center in Greeley after suffering complications from a broken hip, diabetes, and pneumonia.
Born October 2, 1935 to Ervin and Anna Schlake in Big Springs, Nebraska, Klint was welcomed by his parents, and two sisters. His outgoing personality, kindness and realism made him lifelong friends, and endeared him to his family. Klint was a self made man who learned skills from his father in farming and mechanical restoration. He later apprenticed with his brother-in-law, Joel Kremer, in Denver, in piano and pipe organ tuning at an early age. Klint lived a colorful and richly blessed life through his many interests that included a Navy career. He also served as a military recruiter, and at times on the lighter side, was himself recruited by the Navy to escort Hollywood starlets to their opening premiers in Denver. After receiving his honorable discharge from the Navy, Klint resided for a time in Seattle, Washington, working in real estate. He later moved to Denver, Colorado, graduated from the University of Denver with a degree in Engineering, and was employed by the Ford Motor Company for several years. He married Kathy Eanes and later divorced. During this time his entrepreneurial spirit created a small fleet of ice cream trucks, and he also began to collect and repair old player pianos. This led to the creation of “Klint’s Player Pianos,” later “Ye Olde Piano Shoppe” after he returned to Big Springs. He returned to farming and married Patricia Dorn and later divorced. Known locally as the “Piano Man,” he serviced, tuned, and restored pianos in the community, and collected player pianos including several pianofortes for restoration and marketing. Klint would often spend painstaking hours fashioning a part for an old piano which could no longer be ordered from piano companies. He became well known in the field. Klint was featured in the 1990’s CBS broadcast series “On The Road With Charles Kuralt-Postcard From Nebraska.” The Sunday morning program interviewed him and focused on the uniqueness of his business, explaining the complexities and history of the player piano in the “Old West” to millions of viewers. Klint had a deep love for family and friends and was devoted to the farming community and history of Big Springs. He loved his farm, his five daschund dogs, and the area birds that took up residence in and around his barn.
Klint was honest, kind and a heartfelt realist. We loved him, and we will miss him in our lives. Klint is survived by his two sisters, Norma Kremer and Marcine Sauder; one daughter, Meradith McIntosh; one niece, Kathy Banks; two nephews, Steve Sauder and Stan Sauder; grand-daughter, Mitzi; great-grandson, Jake, and many cousins, grand-nieces & nephews and lifelong friends.
A memorial has been established in his memory. Condolences may be shared online at bullocklongfuneralhome.com.
Graveside services will be held Saturday, October 17, 2015 at 1:00 PM at the Big Springs Cemetery in Big Springs, Nebraska.
Bullock-Long Funeral Home of Grant is in charge of arrangements.