NEOLA, Iowa — After 40 years directing the Neola Community Choir, Jan Elliot will step down after this season so she can spend more time with friends and family during the holidays.
Elliot, 77, who lives in Minden, Iowa, with her husband, Ron, created the choir in 1973 with the goal of performing in churches at Christmas. About 20 singers formed the first group.
After 25 years, the group had grown to 60 members. It now has 49 members from southwest Iowa and Nebraska.
“Everyone is passionate about the music we do,” said choir member Kathy Mark of Minden. “Everyone is willing to work on their own to get everything right.”
Choir members rehearse about four times before a show, Mark said.
The group includes business owners, nurses, teachers, a professional pilot and Neola Mayor Scott Brooks.
“A lot of the people in the choir are related to each other,” Mark said. “It's just one big kind of family. There's a lot of intertwined relationships.”
Elliot has four children and nine grandchildren.
Son Dan Elliot, 41, of Minden has been a member of the choir for about 18 years. Granddaughter Danielle Elliot, 14, serves as the group's sound technician.
“She gets a thrill out of the choir and music in general,” Dan Elliot said of his mother. “I enjoy seeing her expressions and happiness as she's directing.”
The Neola Community Choir will perform “Canticle of Christmas” at 6:30 p.m. today at Risen Son Christian Village in Council Bluffs. The choir will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Neola and at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at First Presbyterian Church in Neola.
The final performance this season will be at 7 p.m. Dec. 19 at New Horizon Presbyterian Church in the Bluffs.