DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — Some people retire after 20 or 30 years at one job, but one Mattoon organist is saying goodbye to her instrument after 70 years on the job.

Saint Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church held a special service with a surprise on Sunday to say farewell. Janet Homann spent more than half of her life behind the keys, but now she’s giving it up for a regular seat in the pews.

“I don’t know that I’d call it an achievement, but it is a long time and I’ve enjoyed doing it or I wouldn’t have stayed with it,” Homann said.

Homann said wanted to retire three years ago, but her sons convinced her to stay until the big 7-0. They made sure she was sent off the right way, even if she didn’t think she deserved it.

“I felt that it was time to give it up,” Homman said. “I’m not a spring chicken anymore.”

“Well, we didn’t know it was going to be kind of as big as it turned out to be,” Homman’s son David said. “But that’s an achievement. 70 years breathing is an achievement for some people.”

For as long as the Homann men have been alive, their mother has been playing or teaching music at Saint Paul’s. Many of her students went on to play at Saint Paul’s or other churches in the area.

“To see how many people were in church today was just, what an honor,” said Jim Homann, another one of Janet Homann’s sons. 

One of them even came back to play for Janet Homann’s retirement service, but that was only part of the surprise.

“My brothers and I were able to agree on this,” David Homman said during the service. “That is to commission those 12 pieces in your honor.”

“I’m overwhelmed almost at the love and fellowship and friendship shown me by my congregation, our congregation here, by my family,” Homman said.

Homann grew up, got married and raised her family at the church. She said that while she’s no longer in the position, she’ll always be with the church.

“It’s just a source of inspiration,” David Homman said. “And to go out and serve the church however we can.”

Homann said she’ll continue to teach music lessons or fill in if needed for as long as she’s able.