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Whaley brought love, music to community

Sarah Ann Whaley died Sunday at the age of 90. Fond remembrances of “Miss Sarah Ann” are many but, when all is said and done, they are all the same. “She was a sweet and precious Southern lady.”

Those who knew Miss Sarah Ann will immediately smile at the mere mention of her name.

“Outspoken,” Bobby Money said with a smile. “She would say her mind but in a loving way. And, she was the same person every day and all day long. Miss Sarah Ann was one of the sweetest ladies I have ever known.”

Money said Whaley and her mother, Margaret, played the organ at First Baptist Church.

“I lived over on Vine Street and, when they were practicing, we could hear the music, especially the organ music. It filled my heart with joy.”

Mona Price remembered Whaley as a wonderful piano player and a gifted talker.

“Miss Sarah Ann loved to talk,” Price said, laughing. “She didn’t care what she talked about. She just talked. She was so precious, so sweet.”

Mary Daniels watched ‘The Whaleys,’ Sarah Ann and her mother, on television and remembers that they sat at back-to-back pianos to play and never missed a key.

“They were a concert all by themselves. Miss Sarah Ann, was a sweet, precious lady,” Daniels said. “She never looked over anybody.”

Lucile Andress and Sarah Ann were once neighbors.

“Miss Sarah Ann was a good neighbor to me,” Andress said. “She taught my daughter to play the piano. We watched ‘The Whaleys’ on television on Sunday afternoons. Sarah Ann and her mother were very talented. She had such a sweet voice and was such a sweet person.”

Mary Smith remembers, too, Miss Sarah Ann’s sweet voice and how willing she was to help her learn harmony. Joyce Holcomb said Miss Sarah Ann didn’t let advancing age change the way she lived her life, “actively and in sweet harmony.”

For most all her years, Whaley lived an active and involved life.

“Sarah Ann was a talented musician. She played the piano and the organ. She used to be organist at First Baptist Church,” said Betty Spann. “She taught private piano lessons and later taught at Troy University. She was a longtime member of the Troy Music Study Club and gave the club’s Founders’ Day program many times.”

Whaley was a member of the Oliver Wiley Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She had a vested interest in history and was an avid reader, especially of the Bible. She also memorized poetry and could and would quote her favorite poets at appropriate times and occasions.

She was a favored pianist at the Troy Nutrition Center and the Colley Senior Complex. She played the piano for programs and also for the center’s choir to sing. And, she would sign along, always sweetly and joyfully, Catherine Jordan said.

Jordan and Beverly Casey said, for years, any time there was a gathering at senior events, Miss Sarah Ann would be ready and willing to play and sing.

“She was, truly, a Southern belle,” they said.

Whaley was proud to be a native of Troy and proud of her family’s Pike County history and the role the family played in the growth and development of Troy.

Jacqueline Floyd, a cousin, said Whaley was a direct descendent of Ann Love, a Pike County pioneer and philanthropist.

“Sarah Ann was a Gellerstedt and her family started a tailoring company here in Troy and was very successful in that business and the banking business,” Floyd said. “Sarah Ann was a part of the Troy community for 90 years. She was extremely talented and she shared that talent in many ways. In recent years, she was limited in what she could do but she never quit. I talked to her on the phone just the other day. She was using a walker but she sounded strong.

“Sarah Ann had such a cute, sweet personality. She was never known not to be sweet. Sarah Ann was one of a kind. She cannot be duplicated.”