She was born in 1935 in Winston Salem, North Carolina. She was the oldest of three girls.
Her daddy worked at a tobacco company, but later answered the call to be a Baptist preacher. Her momma did a little bit of this and that, including working in a candy store.
When she was little, Gerry said, “I wanted to be a mother more than anything … a teacher possibly.”
She became a mother of three children, and took in a “neighbor’s grandchild” and “raised as our own when circumstances made it necessary because her grandparents asked us to help.” Two of her children made her grandparents – five times over.
A planner by nature meant that being a mom came naturally to Gerry. “My grandmother let me do everything, and let me help her with household chores.
Another thing that became natural to Gerry was her musical ability.
She started playing the piano as a pre-teenager, taking lessons at school in Mississippi. “My grandmother paid for the lessons. She wanted to give me the opportunity.”
Gerry played in various churches, for funerals and weddings in Texas and Georgia. In fact, when she met her husband, James, more than 65 years ago, she was playing the piano for the church that her dad pastored for.
She still has the first piano book she ever played out of.”Playing the piano has helped me through the years … You get a feeling of satisfaction when you finish playing a piece.”
Gerry paused, “Sometimes I can play, and I forget everything that I was concerned with or things that “needed” to be done.”
When asked what her favorite things were to play, she laughed. “I don’t know. I enjoy playing hymns, and I like playing some of the well-known songs from the 1950s-70s.” She pointed out her collection of song books from Reader’s Digest. “I would order these and they would come in the mail.”
Gerry smiled, “Playing the piano brings me great joy.”
And you know what, Mom, your piano playing brings me great joy too. Keep on playing.