Stephen Schultz of Arden Hills would sit in the hot tub at the family's cabin near Land O' Lakes, Wis., close his eyes and listen to the music in his head.

"You'd peek out the window, and he'd have his eyes closed and he was conducting," said Lisa Thomas, Schultz's daughter. "That brought him closer to whatever you want to call it -- to the universe, or to God. That connected him."

Schultz, a longtime professor in the University of Minnesota's school of music, died Oct. 16 from complications of chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He was 68.

Born in Neenah, Wis., in 1940, Schultz wanted to be a football coach when he grew up, Thomas said. A knee injury closed that door, but after graduating from high school in 1958, he went to Northwestern University, where he played tuba in the marching band and got a degree in music.

"He realized he was kind of thankful for that injury because, he said, 'Look at what I've found,'" Thomas said.

Music "was a necessary part of life," according to his son, Scott Schultz. "He just liked the beauty of well-done, well-performed, well-arranged music. It was something that really struck him inside."

After college, he taught music to high school students in Wisconsin, where music also led him to his future wife, Marcia. She sang in a musical he conducted, and "they fell in love," Thomas said. After they married, Schultz adopted Marcia's 5-year-old son, Scott. The couple had two daughters, Sarah and Lisa.

After graduate school at Northwestern, Schultz accepted a job in 1970 at the University of Minnesota, where he stayed until retiring in 2000. He taught generations of graduate students to be music teachers. In 1999, the Minnesota Music Educators Association gave him its "Hall of Fame" award.

"He just saw what music could do for people," Thomas said. "It just brightened him so much to give that to others, to show others how wonderful music is."

Schultz also was a dedicated Gopher football and basketball fan, and he transcended an early devotion to the Green Bay Packers to become a Minnesota Vikings fan. Although enthusiastic, he was "kind of a lousy golfer," Scott Schultz said.

His children say he was thoughtful, introspective and had a great, dry sense of humor.

"He would always just brighten up a room," Thomas said. "He was just the most positive person I ever met."

Schultz is survived by his wife of 44 years, Marcia; children Sarah, Lisa Thomas and Scott Schultz; brother Gene Schultz, and two grandchildren. A memorial celebration is scheduled for 1 p.m. Nov. 14 at Boutwells Landing, 5600 Norwich Pkwy., Oak Park Heights.

Emily Johns • 612-673-7460