When 74- year-old Wally Jones lost his wife of 30 years, a life-changing decision was before him.
“I could feel sorry for myself,” he said wryly, “but that doesn’t take any training. I could throw a pity party and decide to be bitter and hurt, or I could make a difference in the lives of others.”
Anyone who has heard Jones on the piano or organ during any of the 19 times he plays monthly will tell you that they are glad he chose the latter.
His remarkable musical abilities are matched only by his people skills, and that potent combination has made him a sought-after musician by adult care facilities, nursing homes, civic and town groups and churches—where he generally plays three times each Sunday at different houses of worship.
When Jones finishes the morning service at the Westerlo Reformed Church, he travels to Clarksville Reformed for its 11 a.m. service. And he isn’t finished with his Sabbath until he has played with one hand and waved with the other to the residents in their wheelchairs at Delmar’s Good Samaritan Nursing Home.
Jones doesn’t just wear his faith on the sleeve of his choir robe. He thinks and acts outside the box known as the church, as is evidenced by his devotion to fundraising extravaganzas that take him four to six months to organize and execute. As the producer, choreographer and performer, he brings diverse talents together. These concerts have raised nearly $20,000 for causes such as senior citizens’ needs, the Selkirk Reformed Church’s food pantry, a Haitian school and hurricane flood victims. His next event will be on “9-11” in Westerlo.
“I don’t play with my hands,” he said, “I play with my heart and soul, and no one is safe within 50 miles.”
Jones said one person is way past that range, and yet as close as his heart. He believes his wife Tita is in heaven, watching it all “play” out.
Associate editor/sports editor