Victor P. Kestle, a cellist whose gentle demeanor and encouragement as a music teacher made him popular with students during a 24-year public school teaching career, died March 26 of cancer at the Charlestown Care Center. He was 83.
Mr. Kestle taught in four schools in the Baltimore area, starting in 1950 at Forest Park High School. In 1961, he moved to City College, staying there until 1969. The Catonsville resident later taught at Catonsville Junior High School and at Randallstown Senior High School until his 1974 retirement.
He was also a member of the pit orchestras at Ford's Theater and the Mechanic Theatre and played for productions of the Baltimore Civic Opera Company.
"He was an outstanding musician," said Lee Martinet, former director and conductor of the Baltimore Civic Opera. "He was among the best cellists in the city and a good teacher who had many successful students. He also played the French horn, and we were members of the City Park Band for years."
Referring to his years at Forest Park, Jacob Radin, a friend in Pikesville, said that "he really had close relationships with the kids, who lovingly called him 'Mr. Kitzel' after the Eddie Cantor character who was on the radio in those days."
His wife of 47 years, the former Laura Moulton, a portrait painter, said her husband was "influential in motivating students to rise to their highest potential and was rewarded by seeing them succeed in musical careers."
Mr. Martinet described Mr. Kestle as an "outgoing individual who had a terrific sense of humor."
Known as a punster who had a piquant wit, Mr. Kestle observed after an acquaintance had purchased a beat-up cello with a Stradivarius label inside, that all Sears, Roebuck and Co. cellos were made by Stradivarius.
In retirement, Mr. Kestle was a member of what the participants jokingly called the "Medicare Quartet," which met at members' houses once a month to play classical music.
"We played for years and ran through the standard literature of Mozart, Brahms, Beethoven, but it was mostly just a lot of fun," said Mr. Radin.
Born and raised in Seattle, Mr. Kestle earned a bachelor's degree in music in 1936 from the University of Washington. He began teaching in the late '30s and was a member of the Tacoma Philharmonic.
During World War II, he enlisted in the Army and spent 39 months in Alaska decoding and sending messages as a member of the intelligence division. He was discharged in 1945 with the rank of technical sergeant.
In 1945, he enrolled in graduate school at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., where in addition to his studies, he was a member of the Rochester Philharmonic and played under Leonard Bernstein, composer Georges Enesco and conductor Erich Leinsdorf. After earning his master's degree in 1947, he taught for three years at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., before moving to Baltimore.
He liked to camp with his family and travel in England.
At services Wednesday at Our Lady of the Angels Chapel at the Charlestown Retirement Community, a tape recording of Mr. Kestle's 1975 performance of J. S. Bach's "Arioso" was played.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Kestle is survived by a son, James C. Kestle of Eldersburg; a daughter, Mary Anne Karmann of Towson; and two grandsons.
# Pub Date: 04/06/96