Leah turns 90 this month. And you’d never know it. She’s sharp, has a great sense of humor and is quick to make others smile. Fiercely independent, Leah drives, sends email, and enjoys volunteering three times a week. From a young age she defied the culture she grew up in decades ago and continues to follow her instincts today.

One of four girls, she watched each sister marry to get away from home and begin their lives. Raised to believe she wasn’t smart enough to go to college, she was encouraged to get married and have kids. But that wasn’t for her. At least not right away.

Instead she focused on her studies and upon graduating at 18, she moved out and got a job at a Boeing wing assembly plant for $.93 an hour. This was the era of Rosie the Riveter and Leah played a key role for the “Rosies”—she held a steel bar in place behind the riveter.

She’d go on to marry and have four children, later parting from her husband to build a life of her own design. But her independent streak never went away. Leah continues to follow her heart and today she takes pride in sharing her gift for music with seniors in Alzheimer’s memory units at assisted living centers in Sonoma County.

She plays the piano for an hour, three times a week and says that “even if I feel grumpy and down, I leave so much better.” A pianist her entire life, Leah doesn’t consider herself a musician because she never learned how to read music. She plays from memory; taking requests whenever possible.

Leah expects nothing from her audience. She simply wants to bring them joy and is ecstatic when someone sings along or dances. There are many days when she doesn’t see any response, but that doesn’t stop her nimble fingers from playing from the heart. “Music is my therapy too,” she shares.