Church piano player for 67 years, Betty Lou Pope music anchor at Piney Grove Free Will Baptist

Betty Lou Pope, piano and organ player at Piney Grove Free Will Baptist Church just outside of Kenly, was recently honored for her 67 years of playing for the church and for many of its soloists and choirs.

By Keith Barnes

Friends and family, along with present and past members of Piney Grove Original Free Will Baptist Church just outside of Kenly gathered recently to recognize longtime member Betty Lou Pope for her 67 years of playing the piano for worship, weddings, funerals and other special events.

Pope, 80, began playing the piano for Piney Grove when she was 13 and a member of the church.

“I hated to give it up,” said Pope. “I would have stayed longer if I had not started having medical problems.”

Pope is the daughter of Frank and Dorothy Waddell and was raised near where she now lives at 2606 Richardson-Bass Road.

“I have only lived in three houses during my lifetime and I can stand in my front yard now and see the other two,” said Pope. “This is a wonderful neighborhood.”

Her parents bought a piano when she was very young and she took piano lessons.

“We did not have anybody at the church who could be there all the time, so they asked me to do it,” said Pope.

In addition to playing at Piney Grove, she often traveled to accompany church members when they sang elsewhere.

“We were blessed to have lots of good singers,” said Pope. 

It was mentioned at the ceremony that Pope played piano or organ for choirs, quartets, trios and soloists with many Wednesday nights spent at choir practice.

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