George P. Regner, 76, guitarist who played for world leaders

March 02, 1997|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

George P. Regner, a skilled electrician and guitarist who played for President Harry S. Truman, Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin at the end of World War II, died Monday of cancer. He was 76.

Friends said Mr. Regner could "wire the heck out of anything until it sizzled," but he most enjoyed playing the guitar.

From his assortment of guitars and banjos, Mr. Regner, a Carney resident, would pluck a tune fast or slow, make it twang and wail, friends said.

"I spent 46 years with him, but that [guitar playing] was his first love," said his wife, the former Audrey M. Hermann, whom he married in 1950. "He seemed to play all of the time around the house, and I never got tired of hearing him. Never."

Mr. Regner, who died at Stella Maris Hospice in Towson, picked vTC up his first guitar when he was 12 and taught himself to play. By the time he was a teen-ager, he was landing jobs with bands in clubs throughout Baltimore.

"He was always a very intense and knowledgeable player," said Mel Seebode, who knew Mr. Regner about 40 years.

The two were members of the International Musicians Union in Baltimore. "He had accuracy with a good sense of rhythm," Mr. Seebode said.

Charlie Sentos, who played with Mr. Regner in the 1950s, said: "He could do a lot of things with the guitar that only a man of special talents could do."

Mr. Regner built a wooden enclosure with sliding glass doors for his guitars and banjos.

"Us kids weren't allowed anywhere near them," said his son Scott J. Regner of Perry Hall. "He always kept them polished and looking good. We got to play with them when we were teens, but not before."

Born in Prince George's County and reared in Baltimore, Mr. Regner graduated from Patterson High School in 1939 and attended the University of Baltimore and the University of Maryland. He served in the Army from 1943 to 1946 during World War II.

His stint in the military began with the Combat Engineers, but near the end of the war he played in the military band in the European Theater.

During the Potsdam Conference in Germany in July and August 1945, Mr. Regner met and played for President Truman, British Prime Minister Churchill and Soviet Premier Stalin.

After his discharge, he toured the United States with several bands and later went to electrician school and received training in electrical engineering. He was a member of the Engineers Society in Baltimore.

Mr. Regner worked for Bendix Corp. and later for the Baltimore City government as an electrical engineer. He also gave private guitar lessons. He retired in 1986.

In retirement, Mr. Regner continued to perform, playing at parties, building openings, weddings and as part of roaming musical groups at sporting events at Memorial Stadium and Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

"He was just one of the special musicians that come every century or so," said Mr. Sentos. "He was someone dedicated to music because he had fun doing it, and for no other reason but enjoyment."

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Christus Victor Lutheran Church, 9833 Harford Road, Carney.

Other survivors include a son, Jeffry S. Regner of Bel Air; a sister, Margaret Ann Lederer of Towson; and three grandchildren.

Pub Date: 3/02/97

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