The spirit of Kenneth and Dolores Corke is living on at Cherry Village Benevolence, thanks to a memorial gift from their children.
Marlene Regehr and her five siblings recently donated a digital piano to the short- and long-term-care facility in honor of their parents.
The Corkes had been Cherry Village residents until their passing. Dolores passed away Feb. 17, 2008, and Kenneth on Feb. 4 of this year.
“They enjoyed their love of music right up to their last days,” Regehr said. “Dad would love it that the piano will enhance the lives of Cherry Village residents. Mom was all about doing something that would make someone else happy.
“Cherry Village holds a special place in my heart. My family was pleased with the care both our parents received. And now my sister lives there,” she added, noting her aunt previously lived at Cherry Village.
Regehr noted the family chose to donate the digital instrument because it is on wheels and can be easily moved. “And it doesn’t need to be tuned,” she said. “We thought this was a better fit than a regular piano for Cherry Village.”
Regehr and her husband are both music teachers in Great Bend. They realize older people can often recall words to songs and how to play an instrument – even when they are dealing with severe memory loss.
“I have also seen a seemingly grumpy senior citizen break into a smile when a familiar song is played,” Regehr said. “My dad was still shining his light by singing his favorite songs just days before he died.
“Mom played the old Cherry Village piano shortly before she died. She had cancer and very little strength but she knew right where to place her hands for those hymns.”
Dolores taught herself to play piano and enjoyed playing for family and her own enjoyment. Kenneth played in a band and sang with his family at church. He also was part of the Tumbleweed Chorus in Colby for 30 years; the barbershop chorus honored him at its annual show this spring.
The digital piano didn’t have a rolling cart attached before it was moved from Regehr’s home. The siblings chipped in to provide this important feature, she said.
Pam Lewis, administrator, said she and everyone else at Cherry Village are grateful to Regehr and her family.
“So far, one of our residents has sat down at the keyboard to play along with a couple of staff members,” Lewis said. “Allison Regehr, Marlene’s daughter, spent an afternoon playing old songs while our elders sang along. All of us are so very grateful for the return of piano music.
“And it is great that the piano is on wheels so we can take the music anywhere in the building,” she added. “Marlene and her family thought of everything.”
Cherry Village lost its previous piano to storm damage in the activity room.
A local family has managed Cherry Village, 1401 Cherry Lane, since it opened in 1978. It is a non-profit facility.