'Whopping, happy-go-lucky, New Orleans-style party': Celebrating the life of Nancy Pauli

The Kitchener-Waterloo Dixieland Jazz Club held a rumpus New Orleans-style wake on Saturday, in remembrance of its long-time director Nancy Pauli. Pauli passed away in February at the age of 81.

“We wanted it to be a whopping, happy-go-lucky, New Orleans-style party, which she would have loved,” Wayne Pauli, Nancy’s husband said.

Attendees said they remember Nancy’s happy spirit and how she always helped boost the mood of any party.

"A very loving, warm person who just loved to have fun. If you really knew her, you loved her," Dan Rudow, director of the Kitchener-Waterloo Dixieland Jazz Club said.

Nancy was also a lover of Dixieland jazz music. Her friends said she was often the first and last one on the dance floor.

"Being up at nine in the morning for the first event and being last to go to bed and having people back for after parties and things like that. It's just incredible how much fun she could have," Rudow said.

Nancy and Wayne instantly knew they shared a love for the genre of music when they met in 1995. They got married on the stage of a jazz festival three years later.

The couple spent 25 years travelling to festivals all over the world, including at least 15 trips to Nancy's favourite, New Orleans.

“We used to dress up in our silly costumes on Friday morning and go in the parade down Bourbon Street. Nancy always had her mug in her hand, with a beer, and we marched on Bourbon Street to the park and just partied all day long. She loved it,” Wayne Pauli said.

"It was her passion in life to listen to this music and be out with people and just have the community of music with these people,” Mark Pauli, Nancy’s stepson said.

The couple also ran the K-W Dixieland Jazz Club for more than two decades. It gave them a chance to share their love of music with local residents, while attracting new acts each week.

“Mostly they came from Toronto, but we have a trombone player here today from Ottawa. We have musicians come from the states,” Wayne Pauli said.

"She was the biggest jazz fan that anybody probably ever knew. That's what they did every Saturday afternoon," Mark Pauli said.