The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

November 30, 2013

Meet Your Neighbor: Evelyn Thomsen

By Samantha Pidde Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — CAMANCHE — Evelyn Thomsen has always been entranced by the piano.

Growing up in Camanche during the Great Depression, her first memories of the instrument are of winter days when her family had very little heat. Evelyn’s mother would close off the front room where the piano was kept. In spite of the cold, she would go into the room to play the piano.

“I just love a piano. I just love piano music,” Evelyn, 95, said. “I like the expression you can give when you’re playing.”

Growing up, Evelyn had a few piano lesson. After getting married, she stayed at home to raise her son and two daughters.

“I loved every minute of it,” Evelyn said.

For five or six years she gave piano lessons to approximately 25 people. She also played in nursing homes and churches.

Almost 70 years ago, she began playing piano for Camanche’s baptist church. She also served as choir director for 63 years.

Evelyn has enjoyed playing at her church. She remembers little children coming up to her piano to listen to her playing. She also treasured the response of the congregation, whenever it was moved by a song. Evelyn said that while some pianists are outgoing, banging the notes, others are “softies.” Her daughter, Kay Graham, said her mom is definitely a “softie.” She added that her mother adds extra notes as he softly plays.

“She can make a piano dance,” Kay said.

After more than 70 years of playing in the church, Evelyn will retire Dec. 8. She suffers from macular degeneration and playing is becoming harder. She actually has two sets of glasses; one for everyday use and one for playing piano.

The church will honor Evelyn during the 10:15 a.m. service Dec. 8, with a luncheon to follow. She invites anyone to come see her.