Meet The Ringers :: In Memory


Shirley A. Schuhart
1944 - 2010

On March 24, 2010, Encore! Handbell Ensemble Inc. sadly said good-bye to a dear friend and founding member of Encore!. Shirley Schuhart, age 65, unexpectedly passed away. Shirley was a devoted handbell ringer for over 30 years and chairperson of Encore’s fundraising committee. She brought great joy and energy to the Encore! family, and this page is dedicated to the memory of Shirley.

In addition to her participation in Encore!, Shirley had been involved in music of some sort all her life. Shirley's love of music started when she was just five years old, playing the accordion. She was a member of First Congregational Church and the bell choir there. Shirley had a beautiful voice and sang in her church choir for over 30 years. She was also a member of the Oshkosh Choraliers off and on for about 15 years. Other favorite past-times included fishing, craftwork, cooking (especially pie-making), and golfing. Shirley was always the one organizing potlucks or the occasional brat fry.

Shirley’s family has also been a big part of Encore! Bill, her beloved husband of 42 years, always attended Encore! performances and volunteered to help transport and set up bells and equipment. Her two sons David and Kevin were her biggest fans. David, a professional photographer, also donated his time and talent helping Encore! get started by taking the group photos still seen on this website.  Finally Pat Rabe, her sister and best friend. A former ringer and singer herself, she and Shirley shared their beautiful voices with us all when they sang duets together.

Memorials honoring Shirley's life were given to Encore! Handbell Ensemble by her family. The gift has been used to purchase the final bell that completes Encore’s five octave set. The bell is inscribed,

“In Loving Memory of
Shirley A Schuhart (1944-2010)
Charter Member of Encore!”

As a bell ringer, Shirley’s place in Encore! was primarily playing the middle B and C bells. These bells are the foundation of most handbell music, but are rarely showcased. Shirley was content to remain at the center of our ensemble, constant and steadfast. Encore! has decided to permanently inscribe each bell with simply, “Shirley’s Bell.” As a symbol of Shirley’s love of and devotion to handbell ringing, her family has inscribed a bell on her headstone.

Shirley, your spirit and gifts have touched us all and you will always be a part of Encore! Thank you for sharing your friendship, your voice, and your smile with us for so many wonderful years. We are truly blessed for having known you. 

Reminiscence Concert Information

In July 2010, Encore! Director Cara Davis and three members of the Ensemble attended the annual National Handbell Convention in Nashville, where they had the pleasure of meeting distinguished handbell composer Michael J. Glasgow. After hearing several of his compositions, they realized they’d found a way to pay tribute to Shirley’s memory and knew he’d be a great choice to write a piece to honor Shirley. While talking to Michael, he wanted to get to know Shirley so he could feel a connection to this wonderful person that he’d be honoring with music. Terms like steadfast, reliable, fun, talented, and friend were words that came to the forefront.

Shirley was also an integral part of getting Encore! off the ground, and when we lost Shirley unexpectedly, we knew we wanted her legacy to continue. On May 1 2011, Encore! Handbell Ensemble performed a special concert in memory of Shirley. Hosted by St. Paul United Church of Christ in Oshkosh, Encore! invited Shirley’s family and friends to pay tribute to her, and to hear the debut of "Reminiscence," an original handbell composition by Michael Glasgow, commissioned by Encore! Handbell Ensemble in memory of Shirley Schuhart.

The continuous pulse throughout the piece speaks to her steadfast character and her ability to be a true and lasting friend. The subtle theme reminds us of her talent and love of music with a willingness to share each musical journey with those around her. The title reminds those of us in Encore! that we lost a friend on March 24, 2010, but we remember her and as long as we play handbells together, Shirley is with us.

Michael J. Glasgow is a native of Detroit. An honors graduate from the College of Charleston (SC), he holds B.A. degrees in music theory/composition and journalism. He also holds a summa cum laude Master of Church Music degree from Concordia University Wisconsin as the program's first double-emphasis student, in both choral and handbell music. One of Michael's greatest gifts - and his deepest passion - is writing music, and he has been honored to create commissioned works from several organizations and individuals.