June 30, 2016

Partly sunny

Love of music lasts a lifetime

SHARON TWP. — The afternoon sun beamed into Elizabeth Mulchy’s bedroom as she practices scales on her piano.

Mulchy, who gave music lessons until she was 84 years old, said music makes her feel “warm, happy, comfortable, in love with everything.”

“There’s something about music,” she said. “Music has been my life.”

And it’s been a long life. She turns 104 on Saturday and plans to celebrate tonight with 25 family and friends at Bob Evans — her favorite restaurant.

“That doesn’t sound possible,” Mulchy said, wide-eyed, when she was reminded about her big birthday. “How about that.”

Her grandniece Edna Flickinger said it’s that positive attitude that helped Mulchy reach such an age.

“I think her secret to life is that she loved life. You know that some people get down. Not her,” said Flickinger, who takes care of Mulchy with her husband, Dare, at their Boneta Road home. “She tells me that every morning: ‘I love life.’ ”

It’s the love of music that just might be in Mulchy’s blood. She grew up on a farm around Chippewa Lake and her grandfather owned a music store in uptown Medina that eventually burned to ashes in one of the fires that destroyed many of the original buildings on Public Square.

According to family lore, the only items to survive were a cello and a string bass that subse-quently were stored at Mulchy’s parents’ home.

Once she entered Medina High School in the early 1920s, Mulchy joined the choir and eventually picked up playing the piano. Then, when the orchestra needed a cello player, she remembered the instrument in the attic.

Her passion for music led her to Oberlin College, where she received a degree in music at a time when few women went to college and even fewer received degrees. She then played with symphonies in Memphis, Tenn., and Little Rock, Ark., which gave her the opportunity to tour and play with some pretty famous musicians.

“She once played with Liberace,” Flickinger said.

“Who?” Mulchy said.

Flickinger repeated the name several times and Mulchy still seemed perplexed. Flickinger said her father-in-law, also named Dare, knew his aunt played with the piano great.

“Well he would know. He had a clearer memory than me,” Mulchy said. “Isn’t that funny how quickly I forget?”

But she hasn’t forgotten the feel of the keys. She practices every afternoon using sheet music, but much of what she plays is from memory.

“I tell her to play as much as she wants,” Flickinger said.

Mulchy said it helps her hang on to her past. She said playing the music brings back memories and helps her collect her thoughts.

“To me, it’s something beautiful. You’re playing music you knew and from the music it will make you think. It gives you music,” Mulchy said. “The sound, it thrills me.”

Contact Maria Kacik Kula at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@medina-gazette.com.