Kerry W. Dietz, Artistic Director, began his formal music training at the age of seven (piano) and his church music career (organist) at the age of fourteen. A graduate of the University of Delaware and Westminster Choir College, Kerry is Minister of Worship & Music at Ebenezer United Methodist Church in Newark, DE, where he has served since 1994. He has been involved with handbells as a ringer and a conductor for over 30 years and has been a conductor and clinician for handbell festivals in Newark, DE and Ocean City, MD. He was a founding ringer of WHE and has been artistic director since 2006. Kerry and wife, Beth reside in Claymont with a gang of cats.
Barb Carey has rung in St. Paul's United Methodist Church handbell choir since joining the church in 1990. Currently, she substitutes at a local Montessori School. Her two children are now in college, giving her and her husband more "empty nest" time! They enjoy biking, camping, and hiking. Musically, she also enjoys playing in a flute quartet and with a community band.
Mark Clausing, in addition to playing handbells with WHE, Mark plays bells with Ebenezer United Methodist Church's Good Chimes handbell choir. Mark started playing handbells in our nation's bicentennial year when his home church in Tiffin, Ohio purchased two octaves of bells. Musically, he also has enjoyed singing, playing trumpet, baritone, tuba, and piano. Mark was brought to Delaware in the 1980's by the DuPont Company and currently works for Computer Sciences Corporation as an operations manager. Mark also enjoys volunteering with his son's Boy Scout Troop.
Beth Dietz is a manufacturing engineering project planner at Boeing Rotorcraft in Philadelphia. She grew up in the Newark, Delaware area, has a bachelor degree in Instrumental Music Education and an associate degree in Mechanical Engineering. She has played handbells since 1986, starting at St. Paul's UMC, and is a charter member of the Wilmington Handbell Ensemble. Her interests include many types of music, various forms of needlework, gardening, and cats.
Maggie Montgomery has been ringing handbells for 29 years and currently is a member of the Exultate Ringers of Aldan Union Church in PA where she is also involved in the drama ministry and choir. She is a member of Distinctly Bronze, a national group for advanced ringers and has achieved certification in ringing techniques through Handbell Musicians of America. Maggie loves spending time in the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee where she enjoys watching wildlife and exploring the history of the Sourhern Highlanders. She resides in Secane, PA with her chihuahua Zeke.
Beth Jackson grew up in Baltimore, MD, but school (University of Delaware) and work (DuPont Co. ) brought her to Delaware years ago. She is a member of St Paul's United Methodist church and began ringing handbells in 1996 when WHE's founder, Michael Helman, was Music Director there. She has loved ringing bells ever since and is thrilled to be playing with the Wilmington Handbell Ensemble. Besides music, Beth enjoys reading, traveling and boating. She and her husband are avid fishermen and when the weather is warm, can usually be found out on the water.
Shirl Lord has had a passion for handbells since 1973. As a Vocal Music Education major from the University of Delaware, Shirl found handbells to be an additional way to express her love for music. She has rung with, directed and formed new handbell choirs in both Delaware and Ohio, and is an original member of the Wilmington Handbell Ensemble. She currently is serving as the advisor for the production of Wilmington Handbell Ensemble's newest CD being released in 2014. Shirl is the owner of Body/Mind & Spirit Massage Therapy, and has been in private practice as a licensed massage therapist since 2002. The combined total of grown children included Shirl's two sons and her husband, Dirk's, son and daughter.
Susan Rippin began ringing bells in the summer of 1994. She has rung with the St. Paul Ringers and Chancel Ringers from St Paul's United Methodist Church in Wilmington, DE. She has also done small ensemble ringing in a handbell quartet. When she is not ringing, Sue is a Research Chemist at TetraLogic Pharmaceuticals in Malvern, PA where she is working on anti-cancer therapies.
Sue Spilecki is a charter member of WHE, and has been ringing handbells since 1984. Sue was raised in the Wilmington area and then moved on to attend Penn State to major in health and physical education. She recently retired after a fulfilling teaching career. Other interests besides handbells include officiating girls' high school sports, knitting, volunteering, and spending as much time as possible with 3 wonderful grandchildren!
Ruthie Toole has been ringing handbells since 1970 and is a charter member of the Wilmington Handbell Ensemble. She has lived and performed in the Newark area since 1984. Ruthie is a member of the University of Delaware college/community choir, Schola Cantorum, and also rings handbells with the First State Ringers of Newark United Methodist Church. She has recently formed a duo called "Eclectic Acoustic" with her guitarist friend, Jack Bartley. Employed at the University of Delaware as an administrative assistant in the Institute for Global Studies, Ruthie and her husband, Tim, reside in Newark and have four grown children and five wonderful grandchildren.
Lois Torgerson of Wilmington, DE, started ringing handbells in 1998 for The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd. Music being one of life's essentials, she also sings with The Delaware Women's Chorus. Besides working as a freelance healthcare writer, she finds joy in her hospital volunteer work and in the companionship of family, friends (including the furry kind) and always, the garden.
Beth Browne comes from a family of bell-ringers. Beth's mom, Mary Browne, was one of the founding ringers of the Wilmington Handbell Ensemble. Starting at age 10, she has rung in various bell choirs, including three Choirs for St. Paul's UMC of Wilmington and Newark UMC's First State Ringers. Beth is pleased to be able to continue her love for handbell ringing with the Wilmington Handbell EnsembleShe received her Master's Degree in Community Counseling from Villanova University. and is a Social Worker and Licensed Professional Counselor at the Rockford Center.
Meet Our Ringers
Holly Vansuch has been ringing handbells for more than twenty-five years. She is a founding member of the Wilmington Handbell Ensemble and currently serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors. When not ringing, Holly is the Principal of Forwood Elementary School in the Brandywine School District. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing all types of games, and gardening. Holly and her husband Joe reside in North Wilmington, and have three adult children.
Mary Browne is an ordained elder in the Peninsula-Delaware Conference of The United Methodist Church. She currently serves Chester Bethel UMC in the Brandywine Hundred suburbs of the greater Wilmington area. She has previously served Holly Oak Calvary UMC in Brandywine Hundred, and St. John's UMC & Hart's UMC in Cecil County, MD. Mary is a founding member of WHE and rang with the group from 2000-2005; she was on hiatus while living and working in Cecil County, and returned to the group in 2012. Mary's passion for handbells began in 1967 when she got to play as part of a group that accompanied the chorus at her elementary school. In an earlier life, Mary was an auditor who now uses her accounting skills in her spare time to take care of the finances for Delaware Pacem in Terris, Inc. and Interfaith Resource Center. Mary also enjoys doing counted cross stitch, reading, cooking, and spending time with her granddaughter, Reagan. She is delighted to have the chance to ring with her daughter, Beth Zupan, also a member of WHE.
Lisa Clifton has 37 years of experience ringing handbells . She comes to Wilmington Handbell Ensemble following many years as a member of First State Ringers. She has founded and directed Children’s, Young Adult, and Adult bell choirs in the Wilmington and Rehoboth areas. She has also served as a clinician, teaching various classes at Area III AGEHR festivals. When not ringing, she is a teacher in the Red Clay Consolidated School District. She enjoys spending time with her husband and stepson.
Dee Loux has been playing handbells for about 20 years, with this passion growing within the last 6 years. In addition to ringing with The Wilmington Handbell Ensemble she also rings with The First State Ringers of Newark Methodist Church, The Carillon Ringers of First Presbyterian of Newark and The Avonbells in her home church, Avondale Presbyterian. When she is not playing bells she is leading the Business Applications and Analysis Group at Genesis HealthCare. On her off time she likes to ride her Harley with her husband and spend time with her three wonderful grown children. Other hobbies include charitable construction work, reading, knitting/crocheting and baking.