Dewitt Wannamaker doesn't remember if he was joking several years ago when he told his wife he wanted a set of bagpipes for his birthday.
Today, at the age of 68, the Dawsonville man says he couldn't have asked for a more perfect gift.
Trained in classical guitar, Wannamaker is a self-taught bagpipe player, who has recently performed in several ceremonies and memorial services throughout the state.
A former lawman, Wannamaker said being invited to play bagpipes during the National Peace Officers Memorial service earlier this month at the U.S. Penitentiary was especially rewarding.
"It's been a real honor. It's almost like I found something inside of me that I didn't know was there," he said.
Wannamaker recalled an inmate at the prison who was brought to tears by his bagpipe rendition of an Irish heritage song he played during the service.
Irish lineage was also part of Wannamaker's lure to learn to play bagpipes.
As a youth in the late 40s and early 50s, Wannamaker took care of his Irish grandfather, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease.
"He loved bagpipes. That's where, if I have some real Irish heritage, it comes from," he said.
Wannamaker said he hopes he can make a name for himself as a bagpipe musician, even though he admits he got a late start on his dream.
"They say bagpipes are one of the most difficult instruments to learn," he said. "It's very fulfilling what music can do to you and others."
Wannamaker said he would love to be invited to participate in other services and also spends some time teaching those interested more about playing the bagpipes. He can be reached at (770) 519-2587.