Shirley Lorraine Fogelsanger Beary

 1928 - 2016

Shirley Beary taught piano, music history, and music appreciation in two Adventist colleges during a career that spanned 45 years. An accomplished pianist, she taught at what is now Southwestern Adventist University from 1960 until 1984, the longest tenure on record in music teaching at the school, and at Oakwood College from 1984 to 1994, when she retired.

Beary, known as a caring teacher, was described during her years at SWAC as being affirming, friendly, and supportive. Her aim there, as well as at OC, was to introduce the non-music major to the world of classical music and give majors the knowledge they needed to understand and interpret what they played as musicians.

Shirley was born in Albany, Kansas, on February 4, 1928 to Bertha Wilcox and Howard Fogelsanger. The family moved to Pontiac, Michigan, when she was an infant. She attended and graduated from Emmanuel Missionary College, now Andrews University, with a B.A. in music in 1949. While at EMC, she married Dexter Frank Beary on September 1, 1947. They would have a daughter, Stephanie K. (Johnson).

She taught for a year at Oak Park Academy in Iowa and then returned to Michigan, where she was a substitute teacher at junior and senior schools in Kalamazoo and taught music and home economics on a weekly basis at the Kalamazoo SDA Junior Academy until 1959. She began teaching at SWAU in 1960.

While at SWAU, she and her husband took a three-year leave beginning in 1964 so that he could complete a doctorate at Loma Linda University. During this time, she completed an M.Mus. at Redlands University in 1967. In the years following their return to SWAU, Beary pursued doctoral work at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, graduating with a D.M.A. in 1977. Her dissertation, The Stamps - Baxter Music and Printing Company: A Continuing Musical Tradition, 1928-1978, led to her providing two entries in the 1986 New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, one on Jesse R. Baxter, in volume one; the other on Virgil O. Stamps, in volume five.

Beary held the rank of professor of music at both SWAC and at OC. She was particularly noted for her expertise and teaching competence in classes in music history, fine arts and music appreciation, church music, Christian ethics, and piano pedagogy and literature. She enjoyed a reputation as an excellent piano teacher and organized a successful pre-college piano preparatory program while at OC.

Beary made eight trips to Western Europe and two to Eastern Europe to participate in piano workshops and see firsthand art objects and significant music-related landmarks and cities. Also, while at SWAC, she attended all but one of the quadrennial Van Cliburn International Piano Contests held at Texas Christian University.

In addition to serving as minister of music at the SWAC Church, Beary also served as a church organist in several churches for over 35 years and organized a number of hymn festivals. She maintained a private piano studio throughout her career and following her retirement was active as a pianist, frequently accompanying and playing with chamber ensembles.

She was residing in Yreka, California, when she died while visiting Medford, Oregon, on September 5, 2016, at age 88.


Sources: Professional vita (2007) provided by Susan Maloney in October 2007; Interview with Stephanie Beary Johnson, 1 October 2007; Obituary at Girdner Chapel Funeral home, Medford, Oregon; 1940 U.S. Federal Census, Michigan Marriage Records, 1867-1952 and  Johnson Family Tree, all at; Email from C. Dwight Rhodes, 2012.