Edgefield pianist retiring after 71 years

More than seven decades have passed since Joanne Painter first sat down at the keyboard at First Baptist Church of Edgefield. After what has to now be one of the longest tenures of a church pianist across the state, she has decided it’s time for her fingers to rest.

“Joanne Painter is truly a special lady,” said Travis Brian, associate pastor of music and worship at Edgefield First. “She has been training and working alongside young ministers of music for the past 71 years, and training them to go on and take their next steps in ministry.”

Painter began serving at Edgefield First Baptist when she was 11 years old. She has battled many different eye problems through the years, Brian said, but she has continued to serve faithfully and proficiently as pianist. Quite naturally, her favorite hymn, she said, is “Amazing Grace.”

“She is the matriarch of our church,” Brian added. “She is a vital key to our music successes here, and we are sad to see her retire, but it’s what is best for her and her family.”

“I have really enjoyed the variety of music that I have had the opportunity to learn and play,” Painter said of her many years with the Edgefield congregation.

“I felt I was given the talent by God,” she added. “It has meant so much to me to hear from others how much the music has meant to them.”

Painter encourages youth who show an interest in music to “pursue it.” She said, “It will be with you for a lifetime.” She’s proof. 

She and her husband of 63 years, Jimmy Painter, have two adult sons. Doug and his family are active members of Edgefield First, and Danny and his wife reside in Columbia.

Her last Sunday will be Dec. 26, and the Edgefield congregation is planning a celebration of her ministry next January.