By Jill Fedon
President-Elect, National Board

The Guild’s first Honorary Life Membership Award was given to Frederick Sharpe in 1963 at the eighth National Convention in Detroit, Michigan. Mr. Sharpe was the honored guest at the convention and was considered the foremost English authority on tower bells, having done much to further the art of handbell ringing during his lifetime. His contributions became the model for future Honorary Life Membership Awards which now total 38 throughout the history of Handbell Musicians of America.

According to the Honorary Life Policy which has been developed by the national board of directors, the granting of an Honorary Life Membership Award in the Guild is reserved “for those who have made outstanding contributions to the art of handbell ringing. This status is to be deemed the highest honor which the Guild can bestow and is to be reserved for individuals of the highest caliber.” This award is intended to recognize and honor a lifetime commitment to handbells based on exceptional service to Handbell Musicians of America and to handbell ringing in general.

All members of the Guild, including area boards and current Honorary Life members, have the opportunity to nominate persons to be considered for this award.

The national board of directors has appointed Jill Fedon, president-elect, to chair the selection committee. The detailed criteria appear below. The due date for nominations is December 1, 2019. Questions related to the process or criteria may be addressed to Ms. Fedon.
Complete the nomination form and send it with accompanying documentation to Jill Fedon as follows:

Via Email:       jfedon@handbellmusicians.org
Via USPS:       Jill Fedon, Honorary Life Committee Chair
c/o Trinity United Methodist Church
213 Main Street
Hackettstown, NJ 07840

HONORARY LIFE POLICY

(as reviewed and approved by the national board of directors, October 2017)

Selection Criteria
The granting of an Honorary Life Membership in Handbell Musicians of America is reserved for those who have made outstanding contributions to the art of handbell ringing. This status is to be deemed the highest honor which the Guild can bestow, and is to be reserved for individuals of the highest caliber.

The criteria to be used for the selection of Honorary Life recipients include:

1. A nominee should have contributed service both to Handbell Musicians of America and to the art of handbell ringing in general. These contributions should reflect an extended time commitment to the Guild and to handbell ringing. The nominee should be a current member of the Guild; however, exceptions may be approved by the board of directors. Outstanding service is defined as activities that greatly exceed normal expectations or that are generally perceived as significant.
The ideal recipient will have made contributions in each of the following two categories. However, an overwhelming contribution in only one category may be deemed acceptable.

Service to Handbell Musicians of America

  • Service to Handbell Musicians of America at local, area, and national levels.
  • Achievement of national recognition for his/her contributions to the Guild.
  • If service was as an elected officer, the contribution should exceed the normal expectation of the office.

Service to handbell ringing in general

  • Development of a body of teaching methods/materials specific to handbells.
  • Extended teaching/conducting that has raised the musical standard for handbell ringing.
  • Composition of a substantial body of repertoire that has expanded the handbell idiom.
  • Significant contributions to the invention, design, or development of instruments associated with handbell ringing.
  • Authorship of a substantial body of published written work that expands the knowledge of handbells.
  • Significant efforts to extend the art of handbell ringing into new arenas, such as educational institutions, community programs, churches, and international populations.

2. No person shall be considered either while employed by Handbell Musicians of America or currently serving on its board of directors.

3. National board members shall not be eligible for Honorary Life consideration for a period of two years following the end of their term.

Benefits to Recipients

  1. Honorary Life members shall continue to be recognized by Handbell Musicians of America for the significance of their contributions to handbell ringing.
  2. Honorary Life members shall be exempt from annual membership dues.
  3. Honorary Life members shall have full membership privileges.
  4. Honorary Life members will receive a 50% reduction of the general registration fee for the National Seminar and 50% of their share of a double-occupancy room when not included in the registration.

Selection Process

  1. The chair of the Honorary Life Committee shall be appointed by the national board of directors of Handbell Musicians of America.
  2. The Honorary Life Committee shall be an anonymous committee comprised of five people in addition to the chair who are appointed by the national board of directors. Committee members should be chosen from five different Areas of the Guild. If an Honorary Life committee member is nominated, the Honorary Life chair will keep this information confidential and contact the national board of directors.
  3. Any member of Handbell Musicians of America may nominate persons to be considered for this award. Supporting materials, resumes, and letters of recommendation must be included with the nomination.
  4. In each year that nominations are invited, the selection criteria and current roster of award recipients shall be printed in Overtones, posted on the HMA website, and sent to all Areas.
  5. The Honorary Life Committee will screen candidates based on the selection criteria. It will be the responsibility of the committee to select candidates who have either a balance of service between the two categories (but not necessarily equal) or who have overwhelming service in one.
  6. Initially, the committee members shall remain anonymous to each other and communicate only through the chair to prepare a list of candidates. The final meeting of the committee will be via conference call and all members will be known to one another. At that time, candidates will be discussed and a final recommendation will be approved.
  7. Following the approval of the board, the Honorary Life committee chair will immediately contact the recipients by telephone and report to the board.
  8. Those being granted Honorary Life Membership will be featured in the next available issue of Overtones, posted on the website, and will be introduced at the National Seminar of the same year.
  9. All correspondence concerning nominees and candidates will be destroyed following the vote of the board.
  10. There shall be no more than 20 (twenty) living Honorary Life members.

When completed, send to:

Via Email:       jfedon@handbellmusicians.org
Via USPS:       Jill Fedon, Honorary Life Committee Chair
c/o Trinity United Methodist Church
213 Main Street
Hackettstown, NJ 07840

Handbell Musicians of America Honorary Life Recipients

1963 Frederick Sharpe*
1965 Bessie Erb*, Helen Runkle
1967 Robert Hieber*, Dr. Marvin Reecher*
1974 Richard Litterst*
1978 Elizabeth Bradford*, Ellen Jane Lorenz*
1980 Willard Markey*
1982 Donald E. Allured*
1984 Mary McCleary, W.D. McKeehan*
1986 Betty Garee*, Robert A. Ivey
1988 Mary Kettlehut*, Ronald Schink*
1990 Andrew L. Flanagan*, James V. Salzwedel
1992 Everett Jay Hilty*
1994 Larry Fink*, Jacob Malta*
1996 David R. Davidson*, Doris Watson
1998 Jacques Kearns*, Margaret Shurcliff* (posthumously)
2001 Michael R. Keller, Martha Lynn Thompson
2003 Ginny Fleming*, Marilyn Hines
2005 William Payn
2008 William Griffin, Karen Leonard
2011 D. Linda McKechnie, David L. Weck
2014 Deborah Rice, Valerie Stephenson
2017 Louise Frier, Joan Shull
*Indicates member is deceased