75 Years on the Bench

1 decade 9 months 3 days ago Monday, September 17 2007 Sep 17, 2007 Monday, September 17, 2007 10:48:49 AM CDT September 17, 2007 in News

It was a celebration for one woman who's played all the way back to the Great Depression. Anybody who's ever tried to tickle the ivories knows playing the piano is harder than it looks. But Vivian Updyke at the Wellsville church has stuck with it for 75 years. She says it's both the music and the people that have kept her going.

If music adds color to life, then Updyke's been brightening lives in Wellsville for 75 years.

"When I heard of it, I was just awestruck," said John Ray, the church's pastor.

On Sunday, this piano teacher marks three-quarters of a century at the organ. "I've loved every minute of it," Updyke said.

But Updyke sat this Sunday out. And who better to fill in than someone who's played for her before.

"She was my former pupil and she flew out just to be here today," said Updyke, listening to the piece that won her student top prize decades ago.

Kelly Flynn, the former student, appreciates all Updyke has done for her. "She gave me that gift. I just feel so fortunate I get to come here and honor her today," Flynn said.

Updyke will say the celebration was too much but try telling that to her friends and family.

Her twin sister Violet Lehman came out to say thanks. "To see what they're doing and celebrate her," she said.

After 75 years at this church, the songbook was just a bit off because on Sunday it was Updyke who was exalted.

"There's nothing better than teaching because you touch so many lives through that," Flynn said.

At the Wellsville church, this 95-year-old is a stranger to no one. More often than not, they hear Updyke before they see her and all at United Methodist Presbyterian Church have colored her life.

"Maybe that's the secret to a long life," Ray said.

Updyke said even though everyone saying thanks meant so much, she was happiest to see her daughter and twin sister there Sunday.

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