Seated in the showroom at Brownwood Music one recent afternoon, Arthur Fourment needed little urging to reminisce about his remarkable life, including his four years as a pilot during World War II.
    Fourment, a retired orthodontist and oil painter who lives at Lake Brownwood with his wife, Rose Marie, has always liked challenges. And he recently found a new one: learning to play the piano.
    At age 95. He’ll be 96 next month, although he looks and acts like a much younger man.
    “Forty-five minutes every day,” Fourment said of his piano routine. “I practice every day. I paint every day and walk the treadmill.”
    Fourment said he started taking lessons from Jackie Andersen, who teaches instruments including piano and guitar, at Brownwood Music two, or maybe three, months ago.
    “I just wanted to play the piano,” Fourment said as he waited for his weekly lesson to begin. “I like to keep active. I had a little extra time and I thought I’d take up piano. No good reason. I had the time since I retired.”
    
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    Fourment, an Ohio native, didn’t dream as a child of playing the piano. He did dream of flying though, he said in a 2013 Bulletin article about his wartime experiences.
    Fourment attended the Ford Engineering College in Detroit, then joined the Army Air Corps in 1942. After flight school in Texas, Fourment spent part of his career ferrying combat planes to various locations in the United States.
    He told of ferrying a  twin-engine C-47 cargo plane to England and getting lost over the clouds before landing. He was later stationed in India, and got there by flying another cargo plane, a four-engine C-54. The route took Fourment and the crew over North Africa, where they saw the remnants of the tank battles that had been fought between the Allies and the German general Rommel and his tanks.
    From India, Fourment flew four-engine C-109s, which were actually B-24 bombers that had been converted to tankers. Fourment flew what the Allies referred to as “the Hump” — the eastern end of the Himalayan Mountains, delivering fuel to B-29 bomber bases in China. The B-29s used that fuel on bombing missions against Japan.
    In India, Fourment and his co-pilot roomed next to a physician and a dentist. The dentist, Fourment said, persuaded him to go to dental school after the war, and he chose dentistry over airline flying as his postwar career.
    Fourment was awarded decorations including the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
    By the time the war ended, Fourment had flown numerous types of bombers, fighters and cargo planes. The best fighter, Fourment said, was the P-51. His favorite plane came to be the B-24 — or C-109 — although it was “more difficult because it was a heavier plane. You get used to it.”
    Fourment returned to Texas, where he’d been through flight training, after the war and attended dental school. Fourment and his son, also a dentist, had practices in Abilene and Brownwood.
    He’s been retired for 30 years.

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    Fourment has delighted Andersen, who said, “It’s such a joy and inspiration to have Arthur as a student. Even though I am the teacher, Arthur has taught me to celebrate each day and to never think we are too old to learn something new.”
    In her teaching studio at Brownwood Music, Andersen sat next to Fourment on a piano bench, and two sets of hands rested on the keys. Notes and chords rolled off the piano as the student and teacher played a duet.
    “You are an inspiration to so many people,” Andersen told her student, noting that some senior citizens think they’re “too old” to take up a new adventure such as music.
    “Oh, I like it,” Fourment said. “I enjoy taking the lessons. To me, it’s a challenge. I like challenges.”