Everhart at the piano

Clelda Everhart plays a snippet of a Gospel song even as she prepares for her move to Tennessee to live with her sister. Everhart has been the pianist/organist for 36 years for Maplewood First Baptist Church.

Maplewood First Baptist Church said goodbye to one of its own when Clelda Flynn Everhart attended her last service there Sunday. She starts a new chapter of her life in Tennessee, where she was born.

For 36 years her church family has had the pleasure of her limitless talent on both the piano and organ. And though she is an immensely gifted musician, she prefers to stay out of the limelight and in fact brushes off praise with, “I’m so rusty from not practicing — it takes lots and lots of practice.”

Her accomplishments read like a resume with numerous universities she has attended, awards she has received, star students she has taught, and dignitaries for whom she has been invited to play. Everhart’s love of the piano began at an early age, third grade to be exact, and by the time she was 10 years old she was playing for her church.

In 1958 she married her high school sweetheart, Gleen Everhart, and became a military wife, stationed in Munich, Germany for four years. She continued studying and perfecting her skills with a German teacher, even attending The University of Maryland in Munich while there.

“We stayed four years in Munich,” she said. “We didn’t have children when we got there, but our son, Victor, was six months old when we came back to the states. Everybody had told us that when you go to Germany you come back with a cuckoo clock and a baby. And that’s what we did.”

Eventually they were sent to the Canal Zone in the Republic of Panama and after 23 years of service, her husband retired at Fort Polk. He then went on to teach accounting at McNeese State University which led to them moving to Maplewood in 1981 and making it their final home.

The Everharts also were the parents of a daughter, Glenda, who passed away in December 1986 shortly after graduating from McNeese.

In October of 2003 her beloved husband, Gleen, was called home also. In the years since his death Clelda herself has suffered from health issues. Just 1 1/2 years ago she broke both ankles just one month apart. She says of that time, “My church family is my family. They practically took care of me when this accident happened, until my son could get here. They just pitched in and did everything.”

On Monday she is hitting the road for Walland, Tenn., with an overnight stop in Mississippi to visit relatives.  Everhart will be living with her sister, Frieda Cox, and will also be closer to her son and daughter-in-law, who live just a short distance away in Virginia.

“It’s going to be different that’s for sure,” she said. “I’m going to miss the food here more than anything. My sister is a health nut and a nurse and is always trying to get me to eat better.”

On reflecting over her many years living in Sulphur she says she is both excited and sad at the same time. She mentions the many memories — many good ones, some bittersweet, and some sad she has experienced. Having to pack up a lifetime of keepsakes, treasures, pictures, and of course two cuckoo clocks, she says her goodbyes today. “My daughter-in-law is a godsend,” she said. She came and stayed for 30 days and helped pack all this up. I could have never done it by myself.”

So for now it’s another move on the horizon and a whole new set of adventures to discover. Her many friends in the community have been blessed by having known and loved her for all these years and wish her the best.