99-year-old plays piano at Misty’s for the final time

At 99 years old, Cliff Bomberger has hundreds of songs cued up to play from memory. But now, he’s hanging up his hat as a piano man. (Source: KOLN)
Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 11:12 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - At 99 years old, Cliff Bomberger still has hundreds of songs cued up to play from memory. He’s entertained dinner guests at Misty’s Steakhouse in Havelock for a handful of years, but now, he’s hanging up his hat as Lincoln’s piano man.

Every Wednesday evening, over the noise of conversation and knives on dinner plates, a keyboard played by Cliff warbles early 20th century music into the Misty’s dining room.

Some songs are Westerns that transport listeners inside the swinging doors of a saloon. Others take Cliff, a World War II veteran, back to his early days, like his favorite “Sunset Serenade.”

“He’s not a really sentimental person, so I just figured it was notes on a keyboard,” Carol Bomberger, Cliff’s wife, said. “But that’s not true. That’s how he feels.”

Cliff’s music and goodwill draws fans of all ages to his side.

“He gives us joy and happiness, and I love it,” Izzy Jantz, a child fan of his, said. “His smile and his music.”

And it makes for a good conversation starter.

“It’s an easy connection and a way to get acquainted with other people,” Cliff said.

“There’s lots of people in the group here tonight that we became friends of just because Cliff would come out and play at Misty’s,” Carol said.

But this Wednesday night was even more meaningful: as Cliff serenaded Misty’s with his keyboard one last time. It wasn’t an easy decision, but an understandable one. His 100th birthday is just around the corner, on December 13.

“We will miss it,” Carol said. “Also at our age, it takes a lot of effort on both our parts to come and make a nice evening of it.”

Misty’s will no longer hum from the more than 200 songs Cliff plays, which Carol keeps in a notebook. His concerts, now, will be a bit more intimate.

“I can always play for neighbors at home and friends, which we plan to do over Christmastime,” Cliff said. “It doesn’t have to stop at all.”