Lois Halley: a Keystone institution

By Leslie Silverman

A KEYSTONE INSTITUTION — Lois Halley sitting at the piano at the United Church of Christ in Keystone. Halley was celebrated as the church organist for 70 years. [PN Photo/LESLIE SILVERMAN]

The United Church of Christ honored Lois Halley May 5 as the church- appointed organist for 70 years.

Halley began playing the organ at the church in January 1949. She replaced her mother-in-law, Gertrude, who had been church organist since 1916.

Halley began playing piano while living in Hill City.

“We were neighbors to the Bloom family. Dottie was my age. I was 9 when we moved there and I really envied her cause she could play the piano. I took lessons from her and her mother,” Halley said.

Halley has participated in numerous Mount Rushmore Easter sunrise services where she would play “God Bless America.”

As homage to that tradition, the church community concluded the Sunday service with that song. Halley was also honored with flowers, cake and a crystal vase which the church hopes to engrave.

As for favorite hymns, Halley has two she enjoys to play.

“‘In The Garden’ and ‘The Old Rugged Cross,’” she said. “They’re easy to play, and they come to my mind. I think I’ve played them for years.”

It is estimated the Halley has played over 3,300 church services, 236 baptisms and countless weddings and funerals.

As for the salute bestowed upon Halley by the church community, Halley said, “It makes me feel young.”