JACKSON, Mo. -- Trula Ladreiter can't read a musical note, but she's been singing solos since she was 5 years old.
Ladreiter, 87, has the longest tenure of anyone in the choir at New McKendree United Methodist Church. She's been in the choir for 67 years.
Though she can't read notes, music has been an important part of her life. Ladreiter sang in high school and joined the church choir in 1934. During her first practices, she would listen to the song played through before singing it.
"I have to hear it first to sing it," she said.
During the years she's been attending New McKendree, Ladreiter has worked with the Methodist Youth Fellowship, played the piano for Sunday school classes, served as an officer in the women's circles and coordinated a Christmas pageant and cantata. She even won first place for her 125th anniversary slogan, "125 years of Christian service."
But it's the choir that really is her favorite activity. Ladreiter has thought about quitting but doesn't have the heart to let it go, she said. The only problem with singing in the choir is the long walk across the stage to the choir loft, she said.
"I've wanted to quit so bad," she said, but her minister says that as long as she wants to sing there's a place for her.
"I like to sing and that's what I want to do," Ladreiter said.
She practices with the choir each Wednesday evening for an hour. Then each Sunday morning she takes her seat in the soprano section and sings in the worship service. At the 10 a.m. service, the choir always sings an anthem. Special music varies among some soloists and ensembles in the church.
Ladreiter is often asked to sing solos for weddings and funerals. She's even been invited to sing with the Jackson municipal band during the summer concert season.
Naming just one favorite song is tough, but she does like "Just a closer walk with thee" and "Beyond the sunset."
"But I love all of them," she says.