“I always said if God would give me the care and desire to play, I would. God can use anybody if they're willing."
CRESTVIEW — Pat Speed’s love for the organ started at a very young age.
“I was 12 years old and the organist at Zion Baptist Church was getting older and asked if I would be willing to learn how to play,” Speed said. “I had already learned to play the piano and learning the organ was basically like learning what you did on piano."
Speed said the sounds of hearing an organ play led her to the instrument.
“I’ve always been drawn to it,” Speed said. “Sometimes it can be really quiet and at others time it can get loud.”
Speed was able to practice the organ a lot thanks to her father, who was a minister of music.
“Sometimes he would go on a choir tour or something and he would ask me to play for him, so I would make him sound good,” Speed joked. “I would just fill in where I could, when I was needed.”
She has spent the last 36 years as the organist for First Baptist Church of Crestview.
“Ms. Cox didn’t like to drive at night and she asked me to fill in during prayer meetings and on Sundays,” Speed said. “When she retired, I took over the position.”
Speed said she enjoys being able to play at First Baptist because it is home.
“I always felt like I was needed,” Speed said. “I taught a lot of the kids that went to the church. We were always a family unit.”
Recently, Speed had to retire from the position due to health concerns but said she would take a lot of memories away with her.
“One memory I will remember, in particular, is playing for Hines Sims,” Speed said. “We had a lot of music ministers there, but that was a big thrill for Elaine (church pianist) and I because we knew he had led music for Billy Graham and others. We had a great connection with him and I loved it. That was the top of the mountain for me.”
Speed said she learned to play many hymns over the years, but there was one that would always hold a special place in her heart.
“I loved ‘The Old Rugged Cross,'” Speed said. “It’s special to me because my dad would always use it in services, so it has always been stuck in my mind.”
Speed said she would miss playing at the church, but was thankful for the years of services and memories God gave her through her church family.
“I just love to play and I could play for hours. I could never just sit and listen,” Speed said. “I always said if God would give me the care and desire to play, I would. God can use anybody if they're willing."