The Piano

June 27, 2016
This is a long story about Rippey and pianos and Mr. Carson Griffith. 

Mary Weaver, contributor

Mr. Griffith, or “Griff”, as he was fondly known, was Mr. Music for numerous East Greene vocal music students.  He could have taught a turtle to sing as beautifully as a Meadowlark, all while being extremely pleasant and positive.

Mr. Griffith needed a piano for music contest, and though this event occurred in 1996, it seems of historical significance to this story. Preparing  for hosting a music contest, Carson sent several high school boys to bring a piano from the Rippey School, to the Grand Junction building.  In a miss-communication, the boys went to the Rippey Church and took the piano and the bench from the Fellowship Hall.  No one at the church was aware the piano was going to be moved. The result was momentary panic, as many of the quilting items used by the church ladies were stored in the piano bench.

The “Mouth of Rippey”, Velda DeMoss, newspaper reporter for the Rippey News at that time, got at least two columns from that escapade. It was a fun event to tell and re-tell.  The complete articles are under the Classic Velda’s Varieties tab in the Rippey News website at

So the years go by, and both Velda and Carson are now in heaven playing practical jokes on one another and others, but the Piano story at Rippey continues.

Carson's Piano

Dale Hanaman, representing the Friends of Rippey, accepting gift from Betty Griffith, with Midge Vannatta at the piano

On December 5, 2015 Carson’s family, wife Betty, and daughters Kim and Kelley decided to donate the piano to the Rippey Community Center.

The plaque attached to the piano reads:
Carson Griffith
June 10, 1936–November 28, 2012
His personal piano given by his wife and daughters to the Friends of Rippey November 28, 2015 Musician extraordinaire, music teacher, entertainer
Shared many talents and gifts
Left a long legacy.

Griff smiled down from heaven.

Midge Vanatta and granddaughter
Midge Vannatta and her granddaughter Jenn Lauer and Jenn’s son, Weston

At the Rippey Community Christmas breakfast on December 5, 2015 after the dedication, it was played for the first time in its new surroundings by Midge Vannatta. Midge described the piano as almost able to play itself.  She said the keys were so responsive. She played during the entire time breakfast was being served, almost 4 hours.  Children and adults were happy to hear their Christmas favorites and sometimes impromptu singing broke out.

Carson smiled down from heaven.

Ed Fallon playing piano

During the Bike Ride to Rippey, in February, 2016, Ed Fallon of Des Moines who was a biker for the day, asked if he could play the piano.  He sat down and played some jazz songs that made that piano bounce.  The music was enjoyed by all in the room, and Carson broadly smiled down from heaven.


The Rippey Mayor, Dan Brubaker, and the Rippey City Council Members, gave approval for a request from Janice Johnston to give piano lessons to the children of Rippey in April of 2016. They determined the Community Room to be opened every Wednesday afternoon for lessons at no charge.

 Carson really smiled down from heaven about this latest chapter!

Setting Up Keyboards

Janice and a young friend were setting up the keyboards on May 23, 2016

When numerous children, ages 6-12, and numbering 8 students wanted to begin lessons, Janice Johnston needed music books, and funds to purchase additional key boards, so group lessons could be given.  As the word went out in the community, almost as if by magic donations came from individuals, and the Rippey Lion’s Club.  Three keyboards were purchased. Under an arrangement with the Library Board and the Rippey Librarian the key boards may be checked out for practice in the smaller community room. One can almost feel the broad, beaming smile radiating from heaven about this latest happening.

The best was yet be to come as a piano recital was held June 14, 2016 at 6:30, with cookies and punch following. It was wonderful!

Can this wonderful Piano, recently donated, bring anymore happiness and musical joy? It is definitely bringing musical blessings to many people.

And Carson Griffith smiled down from Heaven!



visiting at the piano

Kelley Bruns, Betty Griffith, and Kim Hartley were able to visit Rippey together on May 1, 2016.  The time together around Carson’s piano made for a precious memory.