In 1969, local organist Jolene Rogge performed at three morning church services before getting married at 2 p.m.
“I said, ‘I’m just going to take everything,’” Rogge said. “My dad thought I was nuts.”
She’s played at more than 15 Nebraska churches throughout her career. She’s currently works at Church of the Holy Spirit in Bellevue and volunteers at Church of the Holy Spirit in Plattsmouth.
Today marks Rogge’s 60th anniversary of being a church organist. After all these years, Rogge’s retiring on June 4. Church of the Holy Spirit will host a cake reception for Rogge after 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. services on Sunday.
“Don’t you think it’s time?” Rogge asked. “That’s going to be sad. That’s a lot of years.”
The Rev. Tom Jones, rector at Bellevue Church of the Holy Spirit, said Rogge is very committed to music.
“Jolene brought new life to the music of our parish,” Jones said. “She has a vibrant personality and plays with vigor.”
Since she started in 1957, Rogge said she can count the number of times she’s missed services on her hand.
The first time was the day after her son Scott was born, June 28, 1970, because her doctor wouldn’t let her leave the hospital.
“Man, I cried after I had Scott and I couldn’t go to church,” Rogge said.
Before Rogge stepped a day into a kindergarten class, she’d already started piano lessons at 5 years old.
Rogge said her mother, who played at churches from college until Rogge was born, inspired her to achieve what she has today.
Her mother died the year she started playing at Christ Lutheran Church in Norfolk, when Rogge was just 10 years old.
Rogge spends her Saturday nights and Sunday mornings performing during services, plus sets aside time for practices.
“If the weather’s bad, I just spend the night,” Rogge said. “I don’t sleep; I just practice the whole time.”
Her dedication will be missed, Jones said.
“I’ve known her now for 8.5 years, and it has been a blessing,” Jones said. “I will be sorry to see her leave.”