Dorothy Chancey doesn’t remember how she came to be the pianist at Blythe Baptist Church, but for the past 49 years she has faithfully taken her place behind the baby grand at every church service and most special occasions there.
“I probably started playing just whenever they needed somebody and it just kind of stuck,” she said.
Chancey started taking piano lessons in the third grade. Early on, she played classical music because she had to, but she loved playing hymns and church music.
When she married Clifford Chancey in 1965, she moved to Blythe to be near his family and began attending Blythe Baptist Church.
Their first child, Clifford Jr., was born within the first year, and Chancey was already filling in at the piano, alternating with a couple of other pianists in the congregation.
“I guess I just kept on,” she said. “I don’t even remember somebody saying, ‘Will you play for us?”
Pastor Richard Dendler said she is dedicated to the church.
“She and her family are just really wonderful people,” he said. “She’s available for anything we need. ...Whatever musical needs we may have at the church.”
Chancey said people offer to pay her whenever she plays for a special occasion, but she tries to refuse. She believes her talent comes from God, and playing whenever the church needs her is her way of serving him.
Sometimes they don’t take no for an answer. In that case, Chancey uses the money to meet a need of the church.
“Whenever somebody gives it to me I turn around and buy hymn books or Bibles,” she said.
Recently, someone gave her $50 for playing at a funeral. She gave the money to the church in memory of the deceased woman, to be used towards the payment on a new organ recently purchased by the church.
Her service to the church extends beyond music. As the chairwoman of the bereavement committee, she organizes meals for families of church members when someone dies. She’s also on the personnel committee.
Outside of church, Chancey and her husband stay busy by being involved in the lives of their four sons and six grandchildren.
She also makes it her personal mission to help families who need it by sitting with sick family members or running errands.
Her mother had a massive stroke in 1987 and became totally dependent.
An only child, she took care of her mother for 3½ years.
“It was mainly so confining that I couldn’t leave her at all,” she said. “I still don’t regret it for a minute. But I had said to myself, I’m going to remember the other people that need help. I do it because I love people and I know what it’s like.”