Group finds comradeship in cards at Hesston senior center

Photo by Blake Spurney

Darlene Moser, counter clockwise from bottom left, Debbie Orpin, Marily Knott and Kay L’Ecuyer play pitch Monday afternoon at the Hesston Area Senior Center.

By Blake Spurney

Harvey County Now Staff

HESSTON—A small group of women have developed close ties by playing pitch every Monday afternoon at the Hesston Area Senior Center.

“It’s my home away from home,” said Marilyn Knott, who along with her late husband, Richard, was on the committee that established the senior center.

“It’s fun to win, but I don’t go home crying about it,” she added. “I like to torment a few of them.”

“She likes to give the evil eye,” said Kay L’Ecuyer, who began playing two years ago after retiring as a nurse at Via Christi Clinic.

She sought out a card game because, as one of 11 children growing up, cards were her family’s source of entertainment.

“I don’t know if any of us are competitive,” she said. “We just like being together. We like to laugh. I think we just genuinely enjoy each other.”

Debbie Orpin said she began playing after her husband died.

“Now I have a whole bunch of friends,” she said.

Darlene Moser joined the group six months ago after moving to Hesston from eastern Pennsylvania to be closer to her grandchildren.

“I just came up to the door one day and met Jan [Lichti], who introduced me to everybody, and they offered me lunch and I stayed,” she said.

Knott said she had been coming to the senior center for decades. She said cards were a good way to stimulate the brain

“I used to volunteer here a lot,” she said. “We served meals here to get enough money to finish the building.”

L’Ecuyer said she had heard from others that Hesston had one of the better senior centers in the region. She moved to Hesston 17 years ago and didn’t know many people while she was still working. She said she wanted to get to know more people, and cards served as a great vehicle for doing so.

“You learn about things going on around you and stuff like that that you didn’t even know about,” she said.

While Knott was designated as the biggest wise-cracker, others don’t hesitate to give her grief after she changed her mind on her initial bid from six to five, and then somehow easily made the bid with help from her partner.

“It’s funny how she bids and always says, ‘I shouldn’t have done that,’” Moser said.

Executive Director Yawna Smith said a larger group of people played pinochle on Tuesdays. She said she would like to get other card games going at the center. A group used to play bridge weekly, but that stopped during the COVID-19 pandemic. She invited anyone interested in playing cards or other games, such as Mexican dominos, to call the center at 620-327-5099.

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