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At U. Hospital, 91-year-old plays song written for deceased wife

By John Hollenhorst | Posted - Feb. 14, 2014 at 8:55 p.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY — Valentine's day also marked the 91st birthday of a man who entertains patients and visitors as a volunteer at the University of Utah Hospital. The holiday of love has a special meaning this year because of a secret he learned about the love of his life as she was dying of Alzheimer's.

A retired English Professor, Ed Leuders volunteers regularly to play in the hospital lobby on a Steinway concert grand donated by Daynes music. He loves to play the standards from the Great American Songbook.

"I'm not performing as much as just opening up possibilities of feeling for the people who are here at the hospital for reasons that I can't even imagine," Leuders said. "The emotional depth of some of the things that walk by."

On Valentine's Day of 2013 when he turned 90 years old, Leuders recorded a CD. His music is now getting some air-time on KUER's nighttime jazz show.

Leuders also wrote a song for his wife, Deborah Keniston, who died a year ago.

They were both English teachers. Leuders didn't know was that Keniston was secretly writing poetry. In her last years as she disappeared into Alzheimer's, he found some of her poems in her private journals. A collection of poems, some written for him.

"She was writing in private for herself, and the poems she wrote are just gorgeous," Leuders said.

Leuders said he's just learned, her collection of poems will soon be published by the University of Utah Press.

"And they are marvelous. They make a marvelous collection. And a lifelong story of Deborah Keniston," Leuders said. "We've lost her, but we have her words."

Two lives, one silent now, but still bound together in words and music.

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John Hollenhorst

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