Guitar, piano destroyed in tornado

By Tammy Keith Originally Published April 21, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated April 19, 2013 at 9:39 a.m.
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Eilish Palmer

Ester Bass of Shirley, pastor of the Botkinburg Foursquare Church in Van Buren County, holds the neck of his beloved Taylor guitar, the only part that survived an April 10 tornado. “I loved that guitar,” he said.

The tornado that destroyed the Botkinburg Foursquare Church took with it several sentimental objects, including a baby-grand piano and the preacher’s treasured guitar.

Pastor Ester Bass said the Taylor guitar, given to him by a friend, the late Larry Nelson, was in the building when it was hit April 10.

“It had a lot of sentimental value. I babied that thing,” he said. “I loved that guitar.”

He found one piece of it tossed aside by the tornado.

“I found the neck down over the mountain,” Bass said, standing near the remains of the church on U.S. 65, about five miles north of Clinton.

Jim Birch of Oklahoma, a friend of Bass’, was in town helping after the tornado and heard about the guitar. He went to Clinton and bought Bass a new guitar, a Martin. Bass played it April 14 at a service held under a tent in the church parking lot.

Boots Ott, the church pianist, was playing on a borrowed keyboard.

Ott said she was “kind of brokenhearted” about the baby-grand piano, which she and her mother, the late Eddie Trimmer, bought in 2004 for the church.

“It was made especially for this [church]. It was made in Germany,” Ott said.

Ott said the church had a stage, and her mother told church officials that if someone would build stages on either side of the main one for use by performers, for drums, etc., she’d buy the church a baby-grand piano.

“They got right on it,” Ott said.

A brass plaque salvaged from the piano, inscribed with the donors’ names and the date, lay on top of a Bible during the church service.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or

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