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Boones Creek resident retires from church after playing piano for 69 years

Harold Johnson knows how to tickle piano keys, he’s been doing it for 69 years.
At the end of July, he decided to retire and put his piano playing days behind him. A fitting end for a man who has played his entire life.
Harold started taking piano lessons in elementary school and really enjoyed it, he said. Harold would soon start playing for his church. “I started playing for the church around 1941-42, and I liked it,” Johnson said. “No one else at the church could really play.”
So Johnson played, and played, and played. For 69 years, Johnson played piano in one place, and one place only, church. “I did all my playing at the church,” Johnson said. “United Methodist church in Jonesborough, I’ve been at that church my whole life. I’m still a member.”
Johnson didn’t play for money, he played for God. The only thing he wanted was to make people happy and help them get something out of his playing.
“I just enjoyed playing, and if I got the occasional congratulations, it was nice,” Johnson said. “I enjoyed it more when members got some extra spirit along the way.”
A person can accomplish a lot in 69 years. Johnson received his Bachelor’s degree in Physical education from E.T.S.U. in 1949. Then he went back to ETSU and got is Master’s degree in 1954. Johnson went on to be principal at Boones Creek elementary and Boones Creek Middle School.
Johnson then went to work for his alma mater, staying for 32 years. He was a Washington County board member for one term and a Washington County school board member for 22 years.
And every Sunday, you could find him in Boones Creek playing the piano and worshiping God. Now that Johnson has officially retired from playing the piano, it doesn’t mean he’s slowing down by no means.
“I’m still being active in the church, I volunteer at Johnson City Medical Center, I’m an active retiree at ETSU,” Johnson said. “I’ve got family in the area, grandchildren and I enjoy spending time with them. I’m just going to relax and enjoy myself.”
The last Sunday that Johnson sat behind a piano was on July 31. That doesn’t mean he has any regrets about giving it up. “I’m glad to have retired,” Johnson said.
Johnson has known every Sunday what he would be doing.
Now, someone else will take over the piano and Johnson will still continue to be in Boones Creek every Sunday.