The North Bend Eagle


Kavan's talent praises God with 68 years of music

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 12/14/11

Pat Kavan had three years of piano lessons during her grade school years. Her aunt Roslie Emanuel taught her and her sisters, but they had to go to their grandmother’s house to practice as they had no piano at home.

Retiring organistPat Kavan has personalized the organ at St. George's Catholic Church in Morse Bluff with cards attached to the pipes. She is set to retire as soon as a replacement can be found.

Born on the family farm in the Webster area, Pat moved to North Bend with her family when she was in fifth grade. She remembers Lora Majors (later Vlasak ) was her music teacher when she started at the town school.

With her early piano education and with a love of music, Kavan continued to teach herself piano. At age 16 she played the pipe organ at the North Bend Catholic church for her first wedding.

“I remember the organ as scary,” Kavan said. “The keys were so hard to push down.”

That was 68 years ago, and Kavan, now 84, is ready to retire from playing the organ at St. George’s Catholic Church. She started playing for St. George’s in 1947 when the church was above a garage in downtown Morse Bluff. She remembers the organ was a pump organ.

She and her husband of 65 years, Leonard, moved to North Bend for five years and she did not play the organ for a church during the time their family was growing.
In 1958 the family moved back across the river and she started playing for St. George’s once again and occasionally at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Cedar Hill.
It’s been 54 years and Kavan is ready to retire.

“I was hoping to make it to April 1,” she said, “but I’ll quit sooner. I don’t really have a set date. It’s just time for me to step down and give someone else the opportunity.”

Kavan has played at a lot of funerals, weddings and for a lot of priests. She has good memories from some of them and not so good from others. Her first wedding was the one that stands out.

“At my age it was an honor to be able to do that.”

And the funeral of a dear friend, Father Otto Eckhaml, is the one that she remembers.

“The whole thing was very touching.”

Kavan is on her third organ at St. George’s, and this one is her favorite.

“I was tickled it was a Conn,” she said. “It’s not considered a church organ, but I like the tone.”

Kavan goes through the music at home each week before church. She reads music and has learned all the organs pedals and pipes by ear.

“It’s my ear, I set them by what sounds right to my ear,” she said.

Kavan now prefers the organ to the piano.

“I like to play the foot pedals,” she said. “I take my shoes off so I can feel it in my toes. They add a lot to the music, put more bass into the music to my estimate.”
Kavan has a favorite tune that she has played many times over the years, Here I am Lord. It kind of speaks of her service to her church.

Here I am Lord
I come to do your will
Make of me what pleases you
Here I am
You spoke my name
And beckoned me to come
Before you now I stand
To listen to your word.

Kavan is retiring without any regrets. It’s just time.

“It’s been a blessing all these years to be able to play the organ,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed it. I do it for the honor and glory of God.”

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