The successful hunt for a Bruckner Society plaque
The plaque that he saw was one that honored the Bruckner Society of America's past president, Dr. Martin G. Dumler. The plaque appeared to have been installed at Xavier University in Ohio. Just how it got to a tag sale in Smithville is an unsolved mystery. The man who told us about it went back to purchase it for us but it had just been purchased a few minutes before he returned.
With assistance from this helpful caller, a search went out on Smithville's Facebook page and other local websites. Ten days later, I was contacted by the person who bought it and now the plaque is now part of the Bruckner Archive.
After receiving confirmation that the plaque would be sent to me, I started to do some research on why the plaque had ended up in Smithville, Texas. Searching through the Society's journal, "Chord and Discord" I discovered that the Society had indeed made such a plaque, but the one that was discussed in the journal was not presented to Xavier University, but to New York University in lower Manhattan. Here is the passage from the Journal:
PORTRAIT PLAQUE OF DR. MARTIN G. DUMLER PRESENTED TO NEW YORK UNIVERSITY
The Bruckner Society of America presented a plaque honoring its late president, Dr. Martin G. Dumler, to New York University on December 16, 1958. The memorial ceremony took place at 11AM in New York University's Music Library in the University's Main Building at Washington Square.
Robert G. Grey, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Society. presented the plaque to Dr. Ernest Hettich, Director of the University’s libraries. The University also received a complete file of the Society’s periodical publication, CHORD AND DISCORD, and Gabriel Engel's two monographs, "The Symphonies of Anton Bruckner" and "Gustav Mahler, Song-Symphonist."
The bronze plaque, which bears Dr. Dumler's likeness, was designed by painter-sculptor Wilma Prezzi. It will hang in the Music Library.
As mentioned, Wilma Prezzi (1915-2002) was a noted painter and sculptor.
There is no mention in the journal of a plaque being presented to Xavier University (the presentation date on the plaque is December 22, 1958) and early attempts at finding any information from Xavier has led nowhere. So there is a possibility that the plaque was never presented.
I started to research Dr. Dumler, since I was wondering if any Texas connections could be found, but this is where the story takes a bizarre and macabre turn. The Society has plenty of information on the life of Dr. Martin Dumler. He was a very successful businessman, a composer of religious music, a painter and a community leader. His obituary in the Cincinnati Examiner in October of 1958 mentions his children and I was wondering if any of them may have "Gone to Texas," but instead I found out that his grandson, Martin G. Dumler II had been brutally murdered along with his wife and his mother-in-law in 1969 in the bedroom of his home in suburban Cincinnati. The story was extensively covered in the Cincinnati papers and a section of J.T. Townsend’s book, Queen City Gothic: Cincinnati's Most Infamous Murder Mysteries, discusses the case in detail.
The brutal triple homicide has never been solved. The only link that could be found was that the last name of the person who purchased the plaque at the tag sale has the same last name of one of the murder suspects. Now, if that was the last name of the person who SOLD the plaque at the tag sale, then I could possibly be venturing into dangerous territory.
I have since learned that the tag sale, although located at a private home, was something of a community event. The woman who sold the plaque recalls that another woman had driven up and dropped off the plaque as her donation to the sale. For awhile some people in Smithville were on the lookout for her small gray truck but that trail has gone cold.