Chesterton Tribune

Bethyne Serena Emery dies at 86

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Bethyne Serena Emery (Bischoff) of Chesterton, passed early Wednesday, March 19, 2008 following an extended illness. She had just turned 83.

She was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on March 15, 1925, the second child of Arthur and Serena Bischoff.

She is survived by her daughters, Dollye Trowbridge and Jackie Wogick, and granddaughters Jaydn and Jenna Wogick.

Bethyne is best known for her contributions to the Chicago / Northern Indiana musical community where she taught and performed for near 30 years. A member of the Valparaiso University music faculty for 25 years, Prof. Emery headed the piano department, teaching hundreds of students the beauty of the classical piano repertoire. With her talent and expertise, she coached students on the difficult works of composers like Mozart, Brahms, Chopin and Beethoven.

She began her piano studies at the age of 6 and was winning competitions soon thereafter, At age 10, after winning a regional piano competition, she was awarded a trip to New York City. She was a frequent performer on local radio stations and was a regular performer in area concert halls before graduating high school.

She attended Michigan State University studying piano on full scholarship for her Bachelor’s and Masters degrees in Piano Performance. Upon winning a fellowship award at University of Michigan, she then completed her second Masters degree in Music Theory. Following graduation, she won the renowned Premier Prix and was awarded a Fulbright to study and concertize in Brussels, Belgium.

Upon her return to the U.S., Bethyne taught piano at the University of Missouri for four years where she was the first woman to be awarded a full time faculty position. She concertized and traveled with members of the Cincinnati Symphony, those travels taking her throughout the Midwest and Chicago.

While in Chicago, she met and married pianist Lane Emery, the love of her life. They had two daughters, Dollye and Jackie, for whom Bethyne served as Sunday school teacher, coach, 4-H mom, tour guide, and “soccer mom” before the term became common vernacular.

The family moved to Chesterton, in 1973 where she was quickly invited to join the Valparaiso University music faculty. Under her instruction, her students thrived and were quick to experience success at competitions and acceptance into esteemed graduate programs. Each year of her tenure at the university, her students took first prize at the revered university concerto competition, raising the standard of university excellence, performing as guest soloist with the full compliment of the university orchestra.

Emery had many varied interests. By far her favorite was spending time with her girls and family who she loved sharing a cup of coffee and sweet roll over lively conversation. Following the death of her husband in 1978, she dedicated herself completely to the success and well-being of her daughters and students. She was known as a classy, caring, loyal, generous lady giving joyously to her students and family. She was quick to take on any travels, and loved animals, always extending a warm caring hand to stray or neglected critters. She was a wonderful and beautifully gifted woman, a terrific mother and the “rock” of the Emery family.

A celebration of Bethyne Emery’s life will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with services at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, March 25 at the Edmonds and Evans Funeral Home, 517 Broadway in Chesterton.


Posted 3/24/2008