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Greenfield's music man hits a high note

Group honors him with lifetime award

May 3, 2010

Greenfield — Former Greenfield School District vocal music instructor Frank Dominguez has a big gig coming up.

On June 2, The Civic Music Association of Milwaukee will present him with a Lifetime Achievement in Music award. He has earned it.

His teaching career began in Greenfield and lasted 35 years until his retirement in 1990.

When Dominguez began teaching, Greenfield did not have a high school. He taught in Glenwood and Hillcrest schools, traveling between them each week.

Elizabeth Restle, principal at Glenwood at that time, was happy to have him. She told him it was a plus for her to have a male teacher so she didn't have to worry about substitutes for maternity leave.

Jazzy night gigs

Eventually, after Greenfield High School was built, he worked there - but not exactly exclusively.

Working under the stage name Frank De Miles, Dominguez had been moonlighting for years as a jazz musician. His piano and fine voice was sought out in many Milwaukee bistros. Weddings and funerals were also part of his moonlighting.

In Greenfield, he and his trio were regulars at the Columns of Tuckaway, a popular stop for residents and people from surrounding areas.

'Major League' experience

He recalls with a chuckle something that happened after he became a full-time vocal instructor at Greenfield High School. One day he was summoned to the office of Principal Richard Roth. Like any student summoned, his heart was beating a little faster.

Roth greeted him and told him that he had received a call from someone doing a movie and wondered if the school would allow him to play a jazz musician in the movie. It was a small role and would not take up a lot of his time.

Not wanting to appear eager, he told Roth that he wouldn't think of doing it if it interfered with his work. But Roth told him, "Do it. You have my permission."

The movie was called "Major League," filmed partly in Milwaukee (including County Stadium as a stand-in for Cleveland's home stadium).

Dominguez relates that if you get a chance to see the film, the camera pans and if you don't blink, there he is at the piano doing his thing.

Music through generations

At age 79, he's still going strong - a truly lifetime music career, considering he began doing duets with his dad when he was only 5 years old.

With his wife Nancy, he has passed his music appreciation to his children - all 11, eight boys and three girls. Two of them are professional musicians.

Ronald Wojack, retired Greenfield schools superintendent, recalled Dominguez with pride.

"He brought the gift of music to 1,000 of students during his career. And through their public performances at concerts and musicals they brought that gift to the Greenfield community."

FYI

WHAT: Civic Music Association of Milwaukee will honor Frank Dominguez with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the group's Celebrating Music for Milwaukee banquet.

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. June 2

WHERE: Italian Conference Center, 631 E. Chicago St.

DETAILS: Call (414) 483-3223

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