When the Columbus Maennerchor closed its doors in August 2011, it left Vaughn Wiester's Famous Jazz Orchestra without a place to play.
When the landlord of the bandleader's longtime apartment in Clintonville died last year, it left Wiester without a place to live.
The 22-piece orchestra found a new venue at the Clintonville Woman's Club, keeping alive the sounds of Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, Woody Herman and other famous big-band composers almost every Monday evening for the past seven years.
At 72, Wiester found himself in the unlikely position of being a homeowner for the first time.
With the help of a loan from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and real-estate agent Kristie Garner, Wiester purchased a house in the Northland neighborhood of Maize-Morse.
"He's learning a lot of different things," said Barbara Nokes of Clintonville, who has played French horn with Wiester's band since before the Famous Jazz Orchestra name was selected.
"I've been going to Home Depot and Menards," Wiester said. "I never went to those places. I've even been to Big Lots."
"When he told me he was a first-time homebuyer, I was just shocked," said Garner, who is with Howard Hanna RealCom.Realty in Dublin.
For 15 years, Wiester had rented an apartment from Jack Price, owner of Vintage Fountain Pen Sales & Repair, 3481 N. High St. Price, whom Wiester regarded as a good friend. Price was 80 when he died Aug. 2, 2017, and the orchestra leader suspected the handwriting was on the wall as far as being able to stay. He anticipated that Price's daughter, Christine Barker, would let the site be redeveloped.
"When Jack died, I thought, 'OK, if she's got any sense, she's going to sell the place,' " Wiester said.
The property is set to be developed as Katalina's restaurant, the second location of a popular eatery in the Harrison West neighborhood.
"Buying a house was not something I thought I could think of," Wiester said. "The conundrum for me was I could not stand to be anywhere I could afford to rent and I could not afford to be anywhere I could stand."
A friend, aware that Wiester enlisted in the U.S. Navy after graduating from high school in his native Mount Vernon, suggested the bandleader explore the option of buying with the help of his veteran's benefits.
Garner, who said she enjoys working with former military members, said it is unusual for someone to wait four decades before using those benefits.
"It's never too late," she said. "He's a wonderful individual. It brightened my soul and brightened my day to work with him."
"I thought I could never afford to live in a neighborhood this nice," Wiester said. "(The house) listed for $1 less than my maximum loan amount."
The mortgage payments are stretching his financial resources, he said, and Wiester is seeking a part-time job.
"My prospects are decent, I'm happy to say," he said.
Whatever work Wiester finds, it won't be on Monday nights. That's when he's in his element, leading his orchestra.
"We're in heaven every Monday," Wiester said.
It's a sentiment that was echoed by Sam Tiberi of Upper Arlington, a regular at the Clintonville Woman's Club performances.
"These guys are all fantastic," Tiberi said June 4 after applauding the band.
"It's a wonderful little gem we have here," said Lori Gudde of Clintonville, who was attending a performance for only the second time.
"Every Monday night's different," Nokes said. "We have different guest artists come in or sometimes it's just the band. It's challenging and you're never bored."
"What people should know is that it's very rare to have someone of his talent and ability in our small, little community," trombone player Matt Ellis said.
Ellis, a Worthington resident, has been with Wiester since he formed his first band in Columbus decades ago, and has become a big fan.
"There are people in life you run into that it's an equal exchange; you give them something and they give you something," he said. "Vaughn is just the opposite. He gives and gives and he never takes. He's a certifiable genius when it comes to music."