ADDISON | Pauline Root walks around the interior of the First Presbyterian Church in Addison as if it's her own home. Having been an active member for 80 years, it might as well be.
ADDISON | Pauline Root walks around the interior of the First Presbyterian Church in Addison as if it's her own home. Having been an active member for 80 years, it might as well be. Root, who will turn 90 in January, will celebrate her 80th year as a member of First Presbyterian's congregation Saturday. After being baptized by the church and attending Sunday school there, Root became a member of the congregation in 1934. Growing up, Root showed the same drive and determination that she continues to show today. She began first grade at only 4 years old, graduating from Addison High School in 1940 at 16. Shortly after graduation, Root married her late husband, William Root, in 1941. The two were married in Root's childhood church by the same Rev. J.V. Axtell, the same one that baptized her. Root looks back on life in 1940's-era Addison fondly. Her husband, a World War II veteran, worked as an engineer for the Erie Railroad, while Root opened up a confectionery shop on Main Street named the Tasty Shop. “It was a thriving community when I had my store,” she said. “All the kids were my customers, and now they're 70 years old.” During this time, the Roots had four children: Connie, Cheri, Bill and Bruce (both sons are now deceased). After 17 years of managing her shop on Main Street, Root sold the Tasty Shop to her daughter, Connie. Shortly after, Root went on to become Addison High School's first payroll clerk. “I wasn't busy,” she said. “I just needed more to do.” Root left her job at the high school in 1977 to pursue a career with Mary Kay cosmetics. After her husband's passing in 1984, Root spent the next thirty years working as a real estate agent in Florida and New York, as well as an executive distributor and consultant for Modere, a company that sells non-toxic home, health and personal products. Root's active lifestyle doesn't end with her business endeavors - she practices a healthy lifestyle, which she credits her vibrant attitude to. “I buy all organic food and chemical-free products,” Root said. “You have to take care of yourself.” Root is also an avid golfer, admitting that her game is pretty good. “My kids can't keep up with me,” Root said, as she knocked on wood for luck. “Even at 90, I'm a pretty good golfer.” Root's anniversary will be commemorated this weekend with an organ concert by Dennis James, an historic music preservationist who moved to Addison in 2010. James has played with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, made appearances at Caramoor and the Lincoln Center, and performed across Europe. He also serves as a lecturer in glass music instruments at Rutgers University. Root met James during his first few months in Addison back in 2010 and has been impatiently waiting for a concert from him ever since. “One day I just asked, 'What would it take for us to get you to put on a concert in Addison?'” Root said. “I'm dying to hear him play.” The last organ concert sponsored by the Presbyterian Church took place in the 1980's. Root's late son was the organist during that event. At Root's request, James will play a song Root's son performed during that concert. While 80 years with the same church is a notable achievement, Root would much rather go quietly into her 80th year with First Presbyterian. “Honestly, I feel a little embarrassed,” she said. “I'm not one who likes attetion.” But Root decided to put her modesty to the side, in favor of publicity for the church. “The main reason I wanted Dennis to play is because I wanted people to know the Presbyterian Church,” she said. “I wanted them to know where it was, about it, how old it is and the story behind it.” After 90 years in the area, Root is a good choice to tell the church's story. “I guess I'm one of the few that still stays in their hometown church,” she said. “It just feels like home.” The First Presbyterian Church's Holiday Organ Concert will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, where Root will be honored for her membership. In addition to James' performance, keyboard specialist Stephanie Schmidt, a doctoral candidate at the University of North Carolina- Greensboro, will also be featured. The concert is free of charge and open to the community. Doors will open at 1:30 p.m., and, because of the limited seating, admission is first come, first served. A free-will offering for the guest artists will replace ticket charges.