Joan Kay Ulloth Dorgan

1960 -  

Joan Ulloth Dorgan, pianist, singer, handbell ringer, and ensemble director, maintains a full schedule of music activities at one of the larger Seventh-day Adventist churches in North America. She is also a professor of nursing at Kettering College in Ohio.

Joan was born in Oak Park, Illinois, and raised in Westmont, one of four children born to Julian Paul and Marjorie Geraldine Wolcott Ulloth. Music was an important activity in their home, where classical music and Broadway musicals were played regularly, and Saturday nights were filled with music on a player piano that entertained with the William Tell Overture and other similar works.

Both parents had played in the Andrews University band, the father playing the cornet and the mother a clarinet. All four children took music lessons on either violin, clarinet, or piano, with Joan starting piano lessons at age ten. She took piano through her senior year in high school and also sang in the choirs during her four years at Downers Grove South High School in Illinois.

Following graduation from high school in 1978, she attended Southern Adventist University, where she earned an associate degree in nursing and then graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in that field in 1982. Because of restrictions prohibiting nursing students from participating in touring music groups and her schedule as a student nurse, she was able to sing only in a general choir at SAU for one semester.

When Ulloth was hired to work at Kettering Hospital in Ohio, she joined the choir and a small handbell choir at the Kettering SDA church across the street from the hospital. It was a musical experience she enjoyed immensely. When her schedule and continued study made participation in both no longer possible, she elected to continue in the handbell choir.

In 1987, she completed a master's degree magna cum laude in nursing, with an emphasis in education, from Loyola University of Chicago. In that same year, she established her first handbell choir and a year later started a youth handbell choir, both within the overall music program of the Kettering SDA Church.

In 1998, Ulloth completed a Ph.D. in educational leadership at Andrews University and married Lonnie Dorgan, a chemistry teacher and musician residing near Kettering. Four years later, she established an elite handbell ensemble which they jointly run. Since 2004, she has been director of the advanced adult group, the Kettering Advent Ringers. This handbell choir has been featured at the Bach Society of Dayton Christmas concerts since 2004, programs that are broadcast on local public radio stations.

Each of the current handbell choirs at Kettering has performed for a General Conference Session under Ulloth's direction: The Bells of Praise in Indianapolis in 1990, the Kettering Youth Handbell Choir in St. Louis in 2005, and both the Youth Handbell Ensemble and the Advent Ringers in Atlanta in 2010.

The youth ensemble regularly plays for local nursing homes and in June 2011 toured in the Philippines for three weeks while also doing medical missionary work. The Dorgans returned to Mountain View College in the southern Philippines in 2012 for a month, taking a set of handbells which they taught some of the students to play. When they left there were three active groups and two more planned.

Joan, now a professor of nursing at Kettering College, performs frequently as a handbell soloist and as a participant in duos through full ensembles.


Source: Information provided by Joan Ulloth Dorgan, May 2011 and 2013.