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Family, friends remember Billie Lane

Family, friends remember Billie Lane

Family, friends remember Billie Lane

Billie Lane

From her earliest days until her last ones this side of heaven, Mrs. Billie Lane loved music.

Born in Millen in 1922 to Charles Matthew Turner and Willie Womack Turner, Billie Turner expressed an early interest in music. Her first instruments of choice were the piano and violin.     Not interested in sports or other extracurricular activities, Billie spent many hours practicing. As a fourth grader, Billie entered a contest and won a trip to Washington, D.C., and an opportunity to perform for President Herbert Hoover.

Not long after, she won another contest that enabled her to play the violin at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933. Previously, she had saved her money with the intention of purchasing a violin, which was not an easy task during the Great Depression. But the time came when she and her dad went to the bank to withdraw $100 to buy the violin. The very next day, failing markets caused the bank to close.

“One more day and she wouldn’t have had the money to buy the violin,” her son Julian said. “That violin hangs on her music wall today, next to her piano.”

Her passion and love of music continued into her college days, where she met and later married Curtis Lane. Following World War II, Dr. and Mrs. Lane returned to Statesboro for Dr. Lane to take up his late father’s dental practice.

The Lanes had three children, daughter Charlotte Lane Brannen and sons Julian and Billy Lane.

“Family came first,” Julian Lane said. “After her immediate family came her family of First Baptist Church.”

Mrs. Lane served as pianist and violinist for a number of years at Statesboro First Baptist and then took on the organist’s position in 1968. She served passionately for 60 years in all.

“Music was a big part of her life,” Billy Lane said. “She enjoyed sharing the gift of music at the church. It was her way of serving the Lord.”

“She was a gracious lady,” said Julian Ward, who as Minister of Music at First Baptist regularly worked with her. “She was always well-prepared, professional, motivated by her Christian commitment and love for God. She did what she did for a much greater reason than her love of music or talent. She was committed to God’s grace in her life.”

The Rev. Bill Perry, who served as pastor of First Baptist, for many years, said, “She was very dedicated to playing the organ. She really practiced. She came down every day to practice, as good as she already was. She was so easy to work with and so positive and cooperative. She had a good blend of music.”

During much of Perry’s time as pastor, Mrs. Lane was in charge of the Christmas Eve service. Many felt like that part of the season ushered the true meaning of Christmas into their lives. Quietly and reverently, guests took part in communion, heard Scripture and listened to Lane’s harmonious organ hymns and songs.

The Rev. Bill Coen, a later minister of music during some of Lane’s tenure, remarked on her musical talents as well as her flexibility.

“When I came to FBC, I represented a significant change, musically speaking, in style from what she’d been used to,” Coen said. “She remained gracious, made the changes with me, saw the big picture, partnered with me. That’s a big thing for someone in her late 70s, someone who’d been playing since before I was born. She hung in there with me. I respected her expertise, her heritage, yet she was flexible enough to, not take away from the past, but to add to it.”

Coen pointed out that perhaps that progressive thought came about many years ago, in Lane’s sensitivity to what was happening in the ’60s and ’70s with church music.

“She came on as a pianist, but, understanding what was happening, she went back and got her organ degree,” he said. “She loved her tradition, she embraced tradition, but was not intimidated by new styles. She did it with grace and did it well.”

Even after retirement, Lane remained an active member of First Baptist. When she couldn’t attend in person, she watched the services broadcast on television.

“I’d go to early service and then bring her a bulletin,” Julian Lane said. “She loved to follow along with the bulletin when she watched it on television.”

Mrs. Lane loved music all of her life, and it always served as a comfort.

Though he didn’t play the piano as a child, Julian Lane has taken lessons in the last several years, and he would often visit his mom with pianist Karla Rocker to play for her. Sometimes, the added voices of great-grandchildren thrilled Mrs. Lane, too.

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