SYSK: 93-year-old Eva Mae Niewoehner retires as church organist - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

SYSK: 93-year-old Eva Mae Niewoehner retires as church organist


Great is Thy Faithfulness is one of Eva Mae Niewoehner's favorite hymns to play on the organ.

In 1948, Eva Mae started as a substitute organist at St. Peter's Lutheran Church of Richfield in rural Sumner. She became the full-time organist in 1974 and has spent each Sunday at the church until retiring at the end of July.

"The Bible verse always comes to my mind is well done thy good and faithful servant," said Senior Deacon Tim Bahr.

The 93-year-old was born near Fredericksburg. She started taking piano lessons when she was about 10.

"I never really had any formal organ lessons, and I have the gift of playing by ear," said Eva Mae Niewoehner.

Eva Mae graduated from high school in 1937, attended Upper Iowa in Fayette for teaching and married in 1945.

At church, the musician estimates she's played at 80 weddings and more than 250 funerals.

"At one service I played for the funeral of three people, and the next day I played for a funeral for two and three out of the five were relatives," said Niewoehner.

Through rough times and happy times, music has always been a part of Eva Mae's life even after she lost one of her two sons in a car accident. 10-year-old Alan was killed while Eva Mae was driving a group of children to Upper Iowa.

"Someone met me head on and there was nowhere to go. The ditch was deep, so I swerved and he swerved and he got another little boy and my son," said Eva Mae Niewoehner.

After decades of service, members of St. Peter's Church and St. John's Church near Waucoma where Eva also played for 23 years, say thank you.

"She's been a real important part of our church and the community," said Tim Bahr.

Great was Eva Mae's faithfulness to playing the organ each Sunday morning.

Even though she's retired from the church, Eva Mae still plays the organ at assisted living facilities in Fredericksburg and New Hampton.

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