By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Imagine doing something you love for nearly 100 years.

A Paynesville woman is doing exactly that. Ruth Everson began playing the piano when she was five. Now, at the age of 103, she’s found a way to stay young – by putting on a piano recital every single day.

In this week’s Finding Minnesota, John Lauritsen shows us how Everson uses her music to inspire people of all ages.

There’s a certain routine at Stearns Place Assisted Living in Paynesville. Every day at 11:45, lunch is served to the residents and with it comes a special treat.

“You meet a lot of people playing the piano. And I’m a people person. I like to be happy,” said Everson.

Everson’s love of the piano began when she was five; her father would use a horse-drawn wagon to take milk cans into Grove City. He’d drop his daughter off for a piano lesson while he did business. Eventually, her parents sold a cow to buy her a piano.

“When she plays the songs that people know there are smiles on their faces and you can see that they are enjoying the music that they remember,” said Everson’s son, Ken Hanson.

What Everson remembers is playing the piano so much that it became second nature. From becoming the first organist at Paynesville Lutheran Church in 1938 to teaching her grandchildren and great-grandchildren how to play.

To stay young she started putting on a daily recital: Monday through Sunday. She even takes song requests that she writes down.

“Isn’t that amazing? She’s an amazing lady,” said friend and resident Kathee Martinson. “She’s told me it’s the reason she gets up in the morning. She has something to do and we would be disappointed if she wasn’t here.”

While the audience has changed over the years, the residents here need Grandma Ruth as much as she needs them. She’s become a musician/therapist as she listens to their problems. And when the time comes to say goodbye, Everson is the one they invite to be by their side.

“People will say they want a certain song played when they are passing away. It makes them happy,” said Everson.

“She’s a very active lady and very sweet. Always has been and always will be,” said Martinson.

A famous musician once said, “life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it.” That’s why Everson plans to play until she can’t anymore.

“You make people happy and I like to be happy,” said Everson.

Everson also fishes as much as she can on local lakes – often going with her great-grandchildren to catch walleyes and whatever else swims their way.

John Lauritsen

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