Meet the 89-year-old who has spent decades playing his ukulele for hospital patients

Once a week, 89-year-old Tom Ruggles visits the same Massachusetts hospital he’s been visiting for decades to play his ukulele for patients.

Ruggles began doing so in 1999 when he retired from his job as a traveling salesman. He decided he wanted to find a way to give back and visited the Concord hospital to ask if he could entertain patients.

“We gave it a try and I performed for a patient and it worked out,” Ruggles told “The head of the volunteers said, ‘You’re on.’”

He started playing in the hospital’s four wards every Wednesday, which eventually extended to five to include the psychiatric ward.  Before he sings for a patient, he makes sure he knows their name.

“It’s very nourishing — it warms my heart,” Ruggles said. “A lot of people say to me, ‘Hey you just made my day.’ Not everyone gets a song while they are in a hospital.”

Ruggles said the hospital is only a half a mile from his home. He still owns the same ukulele he started doing the performances with, but now alternates between the five he currently ones.

He said he doesn’t have any reason to stop after all these years.

“The only way I’d stop is if I couldn’t walk anymore,” Ruggles said. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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