South Jersey woman retires after 75 years as church organist

BARNEGAT LIGHT, N.J. (WPVI) -- Sunday marked the end of an era for Eleanor Crane of South Jersey, who retired on her 92nd birthday after 75 years of as her church's organist.

"It is a big day and you know I guess every day's a big day if you can get up and breathe - that means a lot you know," said Crane.

Crane started playing the organ at the Zion Lutheran Church in Barnegat Light, New Jersey in 1940.

She was just a teenager back then and 75 years later, she played her last song.

Crane's retirement also happened to line up with her 92nd birthday.

As you can imagine, a lot has changed in 75 years but Crane says her church family has been the one constant.

"It hasn't changed that much. I mean we all grow older. I mean our hair turns white before you know it," said Crane.

She's played at countless weddings and funerals, started a choir, and passed on her love of music to younger generations.

"It will be sad to see her go. She has made her mark on this community," said Pastor Bill McGowan.

Pastor McGowan isn't the only one who feels that way.

"I'm just so proud of her. I just think it's wonderful I say, we're like sisters," said Ruth Reeder.

"Eleanor, we love you, we're going to miss you and we're going to keep that prayer card going every Sunday for ya," said another church member, after Crane's final song.

Crane says she's been waiting to have hip replacement surgery and now is the time.

But her friends won't let her off the hook that easily.

At their request, she has agreed to come back for at least a few more encore performances.
Copyright © 2022 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.