At the Berlin Health and Rehab Center, 85-year-old Lee Jollota is treated like a celebrity. She's being honored for 20 years of service. Not as an employee, but a volunteer.
"This is such an exciting day," she said.
Lee picks up her Martin guitar.
"I've had it for 57 years," she noted.
Reporter Joe Carroll: So you need to tune it up?
Lee Jollota: No, it's in tune.
Simply put-- she's in charge of bring joy to the residents. The songstress serenades the seniors with favorites like "The Tennessee Waltz." Twice a week she's here. You name it, she can likely sing it. And after all these years, she still has the pipes.
Joe Carroll: You get a full house like that all the time?
Lee Jollota: Just about!
Music has been part of her life since she was 6, growing up in a musical family in Maine. She moved to Vermont to be part of a group called Duke and His Swingbillies. They even had a longtime gig in the 1950s on WCAX performing live.
The music is old country, that's where the early memories are, like marrying Jim and raising two kids. He has since passed away.
"I have to be careful not to play all the slow stuff, it will put 'em to sleep," she said.
Lee brightens up Dana Haskin's day. Dana has been rehabilitating here a few months. That's when he first met her.
"Oh, I know her for a lifetime. I actually used to watch her on TV," he said. "She has the gift. The gift to share and to give. And to enjoy things."
Dana was so impressed with Lee, he gave her a gift. He presented her with his daughter Susan's guitar. Susan battled breast cancer for years, but has since passed away. It's hard for Dana to talk about his daughter's death.
Lee Jollota: But she played the guitar?
Dana Haskin: Yes, she did. At the drop of the hat she'd have that guitar out.
"As soon as I saw Lee, I got a place... somebody who deserves our daughter's guitar," Dana said.
Now Lee can strum along on both a Gibson and a Martin guitar.
Joe Carroll: You plan to keep on doing this?
Lee Jollota: Until I'm 100!
And that's a sweet note to end on.
"Thank you, everybody!" Lee said to applause. "And it the good lord is willing and the creek don't rise, I'll be back here Friday morning."
Lee plans to play a tune for Dana on her new guitar once she gets it restrung. She said that will be very soon.
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