When members of Marvin United Methodist Church think of their church, they also think of Lila Hensley Lewis.
"She knows how to make it home," member Agnes Lewandowski said. "Her undying love for the church and the fact that she never says 'no' is impressive. She's a very dedicated person to the church, and she loves the Lord."
Lewis, known for her heavenly piano playing, was honored Sept. 16 when she retired after being the church pianist for 69 years.
"I've enjoyed playing and serving the Lord through music," Lewis said. "I've enjoyed my time with the church."
She's played piano for the church even longer than she has been married. The former Lila Mae Hensley has been married for 53 years to James Emory Lewis, who recently turned 92.
Lewis began playing simple songs on the piano when she was 5 years old, but it wasn't until third grade that she began taking lessons, she said.
"My teacher had written my parents a note saying that I was already playing the piano by ear and that I needed to take piano lessons," she said. "Back then, a lot of people didn't have the (sheet) music, so they would hum the music and I would pick up on it."
From the time she was in fifth grade at the old Evans School until she graduated in 1941, she was the school's pianist and would play for all the school's activities.
At the age of 13, she began playing for the church.
"I played for everything connected with the church," she said. "I also was a guest pianist for other churches."
Lewis played for weddings, funerals, revivals and the White Oak campground.
In the late 1940s, she accompanied her church quartet, the Lamp Lighters, in radio broadcasts.
"We practiced mostly at my house, and then we would drive down to the radio station to perform," she said.
For 34 years at Marvin United Methodist, Lewis has been accompanied by church organist Sara Hemphill.
"We were so much alike that I just knew what she was going to do, and we never did a lot of practicing," Hemphill said. "We just hit it off."
Now 83, Lewis needs a walker to reach the piano, but she said she hasn't lost her touch.
"The Lord continues to give me my hands so I can play the piano," she said. "Just get me there and I can play as well as I ever did."
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