Shirley Huenergardt Venden Cornell Warner

1926 - 

Shirley Warner, a vibraharp and marimba player, taught both music and home economics and spent over twenty years as a health educator. She is widely known for her role in the Venden Family Keyboard Quartet, a group that played often in Seventh-day Adventist churches and was recorded by Chapel Records.

Shirley was born in Provo, Utah, the older of two children born to George and Minnie Barbara Rietze Huenergardt. She attended and graduated from Auburn Academy in 1944, where she learned to play vibraharp and marimba.

She studied nursing at Walla Walla College, now University, and Loma Linda University from 1944 to 1947. In 1947 she married Leonard Venden, an organist and SDA minister, and two years later they moved to Michigan, where he was ordained in 1950.

The Vendens became known for their organ and vibraharp duets and played frequently throughout the 1950s. They were featured as an organ and vibraharp duo on two Chapel Records, Songs of the By and By in 1954 and Beautiful Isle of Somewhere in 1960.

In 1957 the Vendens returned to Washington State and taught music at Auburn Academy for one year. In 1958 they took a leave of absence and returned to WWC for additional study. She completed a degree in home economics in 1962, and he taught piano and organ privately and assisted in evangelism in the area. They then lived in New York state, where he was a pastor in the Utica district from 1963 to 1966. Following that appointment, they moved to Michigan and taught music at Adelphian Academy until 1968 and then spent a year at Andrews University, where Shirley taught home economics while Leonard finished his masterís degree.

Their first child, Lenette, had been born in 1953 and a son, Gary, was born two years later. Starting in the early 1960s and continuing into the 1970s, they and their children performed as the Venden Family Keyboard Quartet with Leonard playing organ, Shirley playing vibraharp and marimba, Lenette playing piano and marimba, and Gary playing piano.

Both of the children, who had started piano lessons at age three with their father and then studied mallet keyboard instruments with their mother, also sang. The ensemble played as a handbell choir on occasion. They released two records, The Green Cathedral in 1968 and Christmas Bells in 1969, through Chapel Records, and provided special music during the 1970 SDA General Conference Session held in Atlantic City.

The Vendens resided briefly in Auburn, Washington, where Leonard taught music privately, interrupted by a six-month temporary assignment teaching music at Tri-Cities Junior academy in Pasco. They next moved to Sandia View Academy near Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Leonard taught music for one year and she ran the food service.

At the end of that year, they moved to California, where they lived in Orange County and Deer Park, before retiring to Dulzura, east of San Diego. They were living there when Leonard died in 1990 at age seventy-one. Shirley then married Armand Cornell in 1992 and, after his death in 1996, married Fred Warner. The Warners presently reside in Dulzura, California.


Sources: Information provided by Gary Venden, May and June 2011; 1930 U.S. Federal Census; California Death Index, 1940-1997; General Conference Committee Minutes, 10 April 1949, 1409; The Journal of True Education, October 1959, 10; North American Division Committee on Administration Minutes, 1 May 1958, 58-31; Atlantic Union Gleaner, 4 May 1959, 10; 9 December 1963, 5; NADCA, 5 May 1966, 66-51; Lake Union Herald, 1 November 1966, 10: 4 April 1967, 9; North Pacific Union Gleaner, 18 May 1970, 3;The Review and Herald, 16 June 1970, 9 and 18 June 1970, 12; Pacific Union Recorder, 16 July 1970, 5; The Modesto Bee, 31 July 1970, B-3; Personal Knowledge