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50 years at the church organ

Sharon Furler of Ely recently celebrated her 50th anniversary as organist for the First Presbyterian Church near Ely. A special celebration was held in June to commemorate the occasion. (contributed photo)

ELY– The congregation of the First Presbyterian Church near Ely held a special celebration in June to commemorate the 50th anniversary of church organist Sharon Furler, of Ely.
Furler started playing the organ at weekly church services when she was just 14 years old. She accompanied the church choir on piano for a few years prior to becoming the organist.
To commemorate this rare milestone, a program was held in her honor at the church Sunday, June 26, featuring church members, area musicians and special guests. Over 100 friends and family attended the celebration and her brother Ted Biderman, of Marion, who is a percussionist, performed with his praise band.
“My mother would tell me stories of when I was a little girl, I would sit on her lap during a church service listening to whomever was at the organ, and I would say, ‘Someday I’d like to do that,’” said Furler.
And, for 50 years, she’s been doing it with no signs of stopping.
Despite playing for five decades alongside eight different pastors at the country church, Furler still takes time to practice every week. She says she always felt she faced a disadvantage of playing with petite hands with short fingers, however these obstacles haven’t stopped her from doing what she loves.
“Music is a very big part of my life and it has been wonderful to be able to share something that brings me so much joy with those around me,” said Furler.
In recent months, Furler had carpal tunnel surgeries on her hands, preventing her from playing as she healed for a few weeks after each surgery, but she said she has every intention to continue her work at First Presbyterian for years to come.
Over the years, she performed at countless weddings and funerals in the Cedar Rapids area, along with nearly every Sunday service at First Presbyterian, missing only a few each year for scheduled vacations.