MT. NEBO, WV (WOWK) – Dennis Cherry learned Wednesday that the first guitar he ever owned was stolen from the church he belongs to in Mt. Nebo, West Virginia.
Cherry, who is 62, says he has owned the guitar for 45 years, meaning he bought the instrument when he was just 17.
“You know, I worked hard for this,” says Cherry. “It wasn’t bought for me – I actually bought it. So after school I could pay for it, and I’ve been playing it since I was seventeen.”
Cherry is a pastor at Daystar Baptist Church in the Mt. Nebo area and his entire family worships there. He says the church was broken into and his guitar and two Behringer speakers were stolen.
Cherry believes that someone broke in between the night of Sunday November 20th and Wednesday November 23rd. He says the theft was discovered Wednesday night when a church member came to get some chairs from the building.
“It was discovered on the 23rd, but we had met for service on the 20th, so probably one of those nights where they probably broke in on the 20th, 21st or 22nd,” says Cherry.
Hoping to find the guitar, Cherry offered a $500 reward, no questions asked. Several good friends came to Cherry’s side to add money to the reward. One friend offered $200, another suggested $300, and two more friends also added $300, bringing the total to $1,300.
However, since the guitar has not yet been found, Cherry withdrew the $1,300 reward and instead thanked everyone who tried to help him.
Cherry says his memories of the instrument mean more to him than any prize the person who stole it would get for it.
Cherry recalls holding his guitar while touring with a gospel band in southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana. He says he has played in every church in Kentucky that he has pastored, as well as many other places.
Cherry clings to the moments when he played guitar with his grandchildren. One of his granddaughters, Kinley, died in March at the age of two and a half. In a video sent to 13 News, Cherry shares a special moment with Kinley singing the Christian nursery rhyme “Jesus Loves Me.”
Cherry says music has always been a part of his family.
At the age of 10 he played his uncle’s guitar. One of Cherry’s other granddaughters, Sophie, the late Kinley’s younger sister, also loves to sing and play the piano. In addition, his wife is a pianist and all his sons play instruments.
Cherry hopes the guitar will be found so he can keep his family’s legacy alive and pass it on to his children and grandchildren. He says if the family means anything to the person who took the guitar, then they should rightly give it back.
“It’s just something in our family that we’d like to keep in our family,” says Cherry. “And if family means anything to whoever took it, they would certainly understand if they allowed one of our grandchildren or one of my sons or daughters to have the guitar.”
According to Cherry, the West Virginia State Police Department’s Summersville Division responded at the scene of the break-in. Anyone with information about the incident can contact the Summersville Detachment at (304) 872-0800 or the Nicholas County Emergency Call Center at (304) 872-7814.