Laura KerrIn late 2019, my husband Tom and I moved into a townhome at Asbury Place Maryville. We were leaving behind a lake home where we had hosted family and friends for 18 years. We knew no one at Asbury Place. At the age of 73 we were starting over from scratch.

Immediately, we were warmly welcomed by the residents around us. In a casual conversation one of them asked, “Do you like to sing?” We had once been active in a choir and so we said,” Sure!” At that time, the Asbury Singers was a new concept with just a handful of participants.

We met in the chapel in assisted living because there was a piano there, and we would be able to include those resident voices.

Things were getting off to a great start when the pandemic hit. From March 2020 to late spring 2021 all in-person activities were cancelled. There were no sit-down meals in the Bistro; guests were discouraged, and everywhere we went, masks were required to keep us safe. And on Good Friday, 2021, we lost the organizer of our group.

Later that spring, Tom was asked if  he would take over the organizing role of the Asbury Singers. Tom was honored but unsure there would be a resurrection. When we were able to begin group activities again, masking was still in place. Who would want to sing in a mask?

Amazingly, on Saturday afternoons through the rest of the year, singers showed up in masks. We saw regular attendance of nearly 20. Walkers, canes, and motorized wheelchairs shared the space with those who were mobile.

In the spring of 2022, the Asbury chaplain requested that we provide music for the Easter program. Next, we presented a “Summer Road Trip Concert” making a musical trip from the East to the West Coast. At Christmas we decided to do a real road trip, down the hill to perform for residents receiving memory care. Asbury staff provided the transportation.

During caroling, I sat next to Judy, a friend in a mobilized wheelchair. The large lobby area around us was filled with residents receiving memory care and their family members. Judy leaned over to me and pointed out a resident sitting with his wife. “Do you see that gentleman over there? He was my husband’s cardiologist for a dozen years. He’s such a wonderful doctor and human being.” When we began to sing, this gentleman sang along. Most of the other residents joined in as well. The room was filled with the beautiful sounds of beloved carols. Independent, assisted living, and memory care residents—we were all singing with one voice at Christmas time.

Now that masks are a thing of the past, we are looking forward to more musical presentations and to the routine joy of singing together. Without Asbury Place support and the resolute spirits of the singers, we could not have become a real community. Tom and I celebrate the community Asbury Singers has brought into our lives.


Laura Derr is the author of two books of regional history. She and her husband owned a marketing business in Iowa for 22 years.

Contact Us
For More Info