WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Even at 100 years old, Lucille Nelson still attends church every Sunday.
However, her seat is not in the pews ─ it’s reserved at the piano.
For most of her 100 years, Lucille’s music has filled Baptist churches, including the First Baptist Church in West Warwick. She has probably played every hymn there is.
“I have my favorites, and I have a lot that I ad lib. Fill in here and there,” she said. “They just think it’s wonderful. As long as I don’t make any bad boo-boos.”
It’s what gets her through the hard times. Lucille lost her husband decades ago, and recently her daughter.
“We were married for 32 years, and then he passed away. He had a heart attack…. She passed away three years ago. She had multiple sclerosis,” Lucille explained.
Lucille has three grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren ─ none of whom were taught to play the piano.
But it’s teaching the children of the music ministry that’s helped Lucille reach 100 years old.
“They didn’t have a piano. If they had a piano, I’d grab a hold of them,” she said.
“They always needed somebody to play for the little ones,” she said. “They are the ones that I love and they were cute. A lot of people think, ‘Well, why should kids learn these old hymns?’ But a lot of what we believe is written in those words.”
Lucille said she shows up every week, no matter what.
“Doctor says, ‘Well, all I can tell you is you have arthritis,’ and I say, ‘Well that’s better than cancer, right?’ It’s fabulous to be 100 and still going,” Lucille said.
Out of all the songs she’s played, she said one stands out as her favorite.
“When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there,” she sang with a smile.