Longtime piano teacher bids farewell

  • Jul. 8, 2005 2:00 p.m.

By Mariah McCooey-During 35 years on the islands, she’s been a piano teacher, church organist, gardener extraordinaire, master upholsterer, and friend to generations of islanders.
Myrna Ahern came to the islands with her two children in 1969, and has lived in her house in Port Clements since 1974. When I called to interview her about her time here, she was characteristically “too busy” to talk – but this time with packing, as she is up and leaving the islands this week.
“She’s an amazing woman, very generous,” said Masset’s David Phillips, who met Ms Ahern years ago through her upholstering business. “Myrna’s quite a character – I’m going to miss her.”
Mr. Phillips said that she has been keeping his B&B kitchen stocked with fresh fruit and greens for years.
“She’s been the mainstay of my raspberries, loganberries, and currants… she’s always had an incredible garden.” Her house has always been a great place to stop in for tea, he added, on the way up or down the island.
One of her biggest contributions to the islands was bringing a piano tuner up and ferrying him around to all the pianos in the various communities.
“She knows every island piano intimately,” said Mr. Phillips, adding that she would call each piano owner and tell them a tuner was on-island.
Port resident Colleen Beachy has known Ms Ahern since she was nine years old. Her piano lessons were memorable, she said, because “she always fed us.” Every time she went for a piano lesson after school, there was fresh bread or some other treat for the kids. Ms Beachy’s daughter Stephanie has also taken lessons from Ms Ahern, and now she can “play pretty well.”
“She loves kids,” said Ms Beachy, “I remember at Halloween, she always gave out hot dogs. She’s always been very giving.”
Ms Ahern has even taught piano via radio phone to Judith Schweers, who lives in the lighthouse at the remote northwest tip of the islands.
“She’s an amazing woman,” said Mr. Phillips. “Her departure is a big loss to the islands.”