Prayer, music keys to Scott’s century

By Kristina Jackson

When Pearl Scott looked around at the people who had come to celebrate her birthday, she was amazed.

“It’s a very happy day,” Scott said. “I knew they were coming but I didn’t know there would be this many.”

Scott marked her 100th birthday on Thursday, and family and friends came from all around to a party in her honor on Saturday. Scott, who has been the organist at Ashland Community Church for more than 80 years, welcomed guests as they packed the church to give her their birthday wishes.

“People have come from all directions,” Scott said. “It’s just amazing.”

Scott was born in Delia and as a small child traveled southern Kansas with her grandfather, a traveling minister, before eventually landing in Zeandale. She married her husband, Bill, after he returned from serving in World War II and they lived in Manhattan before making there home in Ashland, where Scott has lived ever since. Bill died about 11 years ago.

As the church organist, she’s become a fixture in the community. She plays at Ashland every week, has played at just about every church in the Manhattan area.

“She’s been at the center of things since I can remember,” said Jan Lyons, a member of the church for about 40 years.

That’s why so many people wanted to celebrate her 100th birthday with her, Lyons said. In addition to current members of the community, many traveled to be at the party. Scott also said she received a card from K-State football coach Bill Snyder.

“She’s touched so many lives,” Lyons said. “People who haven’t been back in 10 or 15 years came back to tell her happy birthday.”

Aside from her duties as organist, Scott has taught Sunday school and been a 4-H Club leader as well. Scott said the community involvement was what kept her and her family in the area.

“It was our home,” she said. “We knew everybody.”

Lyons said part of Scott’s impact comes from her attitude. Scott played the organ at the weddings of both of Lyons’ daughters, and she said they wouldn’t have had anyone else do it. Church members recently discussed looking for a possible back-up organist for Scott if she had to miss a service, and she replied, “I haven’t retired yet!” “She has such a positive attitude and tremendous humor,” she said. “And you can tell by how she smiles.” Aside from starting the day with a breakfast of a banana and Skippy peanut butter, Scott said she has only a little advice for a long and
happy life.

“Say a prayer every morning, go to church every Sunday, and play music,” she said.

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