Maxine Knepper

KNEPPER, Maxine Fields, 88, of Wheeling, WV, formerly of New York City, passed away peacefully on Saturday, January 18, 2014, in Wheeling Hospital.

Maxine Helen Fields (Knepper) was born on December 12, 1926, in Elkhart, IN, into a musical family, the only child of Reid Fields and Clara (Wrassie) Fields.

She took up trumpet as a child, and was also an accomplished tap and ballroom dancer. She played in her high school marching band, and as a teenager, went to Chicago and was a winner on the very popular Morris B. Sachs Amateur Hour.

After graduating high school, she worked at the House of David as a musician for the summer, and then at the age of 16, went out on the road as a touring musician, traveling the entire country with jazz and swing bands. Notably, she played with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, and with “The Blonde Bombshell,” Ina Rae Hutton and the Melodears. She was extensively quoted in the book, “Swing Shift,” by Sherrie Tucker, on the “all girl” bands of the 1940’s. She was the widow of Jimmy Knepper, world reknowned and Grammy nominated jazz trombonist, whom she met in New York, and married in Tucson, Arizona in 1954. She had two children: her daughter, Robin (Knepper) Mahonen, and her son, Timothy Knepper, who predeceased her in 1991. She also has four grandchildren: Damien Rios, Andrew Rios, Lucas Rios, and Miranda Rios. She is also missed by her son-in-law, Ed “Uncle Eddie” Mahonen.

In addition to her incredible passion for music, Maxine was an expert seamstress, and enjoyed traveling, nature, gardening, and jewelry making. She taught trumpet, French horn, and piano privately for many years while she lived in Staten Island, New York. She was a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Ohio Valley. She was a friendly, open and loving people person with a very unique outlook on life, and she is fondly remembered by many.

There will be no visitation.

Friends are invited to attend a Memorial Service on Sunday, February 16, 2014, at 12:30 p.m. at the Ohio Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, 66166 Kirkwood Heights, Bellaire, OH, with the Rev. Dr. Renne Waun officiating.

Inurnment in New York.

Arrangements by Kepner Funeral Home, 166 Kruger Street, Wheeling, WV 26003.

Personal condolences can be expressed at

In lieu of flowers, friends may make a donation in her name to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Ohio Valley.