Patty Highland, Chair – Contact Patty
Patty Highland has a love of handbells, having been involved with handbells for over thirty-three years as a ringer, director, teacher, and clinician. While in high school, she discovered the joy of ringing in an ensemble and has been ringing or directing ever since. Patty has served as music director in Austin area churches for thirty years, directing handbell ensembles and vocal choirs. In addition to her church leadership, she has enjoyed teaching handbells at summer music camps and as a clinician. Patty is one of the co-founders of the Austin Handbell Ensemble. After a “family leave break,” she is happy to be back ringing with the ensemble. Patty currently serves as Director of Music Ministries at Lake Travis United Methodist Church (in Austin, TX), leading choral and handbell ensembles. She also loves to play piano and regularly accompanies ballet classes at a local dance studio. Patty holds music degrees from Furman University (music education) and University of Texas – Austin (choral conducting.) Patty and her husband David are the proud parents of Emma and Dawson.
Dellinda Ebeling, Chair-Elect – Contact Dellinda
Dellinda Ebeling has been a handbell musician since the 1990s and is the director of Bells Gloria at Second Baptist Church in Lubbock, where she also facilitates several ensembles within the group. She began a children’s handbell choir in 2015 and is a ringer at another local church.
A member of Handbell Musicians of America, she previously served a term on the Area 9 board where she helped organize two Spring Rings in west Texas, arranged and served as the clinician for a fall Boot Camp and reading session, and assisted in organizing Area 9’s first national anthem ringing event in 2016. She has organized two other workshops in Lubbock with nationally known clinicians and attends events around the country to further her own skills in directing and ringing. Passionate about all things handbells, she has begun working with friends to establish a community handbell ensemble in Lubbock.
Dellinda has been an attorney in private practice for over 40 years, specializing in Child Protective Services cases. Her husband Bobby cooks breakfast for the group on the Sundays they play and is a dedicated chauffeur, bell polisher, and all-around assistant. They enjoy spending time with their daughters and triplet granddaughters in addition to their church activities and traveling.
Russell Miller, Secretary – Contact Russell
Rev. Dr. Russell Miller is the associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Boerne. After serving more than 30 years in music ministry for three congregations, he moved into a pastoral role, where he now focuses on pastoral care, adult faith formation, and missions. He still is an active volunteer participant in music ministries. He was ordained as a permanent deacon in the United Methodist Church in 1997 and served as chair of the Rio Texas Conference Order of Deacons for 8 years.
Russell has played handbells since high school and directed them since the early days of his ministry. He was a member of the Houston Bronze Ensemble in the mid-1990’s, under the direction of Maggie Tucker. He has previously served on the Area 9 board as the South Texas representative.
Russell married his high school sweetheart, Sylvia, in 1983. Together, they perform handbell duets under the stage name “Double Ring”. Both also teach full studios of piano students, and Sylvia is the organist/pianist on staff at FUMC, Boerne. They have 2 adult children, both of whom are married, and 4 grandchildren that are their pride and joy.
Chris Burton, Treasurer – Contact Chris
Chris has rung or directed handbells since 2005. A bass bell ringer by choice, he is also a composer, cellist, clarinetist, and pianist. He holds degrees in music composition from Baylor University, Florida State University, and the University of Kansas. Chris has rung with the Baylor Bronze ensemble and Dallas’ Cast of Bronze. He currently directs the handbell choirs at First United Methodist Church in Round Rock, Texas, and is looking forward to his first handbell publications with Hope and Beckenhorst in 2019.
Ruth Seiwell, Past-Chair – Contact Ruth
Ruth Seiwell is the Practice Manager for Focus on Family Healthcare, a family-oriented medical group. She holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the University of North Texas. In addition to her full-time management position, she is the Handbell Camp Director for Texas Conference Choir Clinic, serves on that board of directors and directs the handbell program at First United Methodist Church of Lake Jackson Texas.
Ruth loves conducting and ringing with handbell ensembles. She served as the artistic director of the Houston Bronze Ensemble, an auditioned, professional handbell ensemble, 2010-2012. She was also a ringing member of the ensemble both before and after her term as artistic director. She has extensive experience directing children’s chime, handbell and vocal choirs, youth bell choirs and both beginning and advanced level adult handbell ensembles. She has a passion of advancing the art of handbell ringing and in bringing information and skill to all involved in handbell ministries. Ruth believes the concept that all handbell ensembles can ring musically all levels of music from beginning to advanced repertoire. She has served a clinician in Area 9 as well as in New Mexico and teaches a wide variety of classes for handbell events.
Ruth lives in Lake Jackson TX and is married to her husband, Bob. She has two children, Erin and Craig along with spouses Scott and Bella, and four grandchildren, Tristan, Kori, Kayli, and Jackson.
Andrew Dugan, Membership – Contact Andrew
Andrew Dugan has worked as a choral and handbell musician for the past twenty years. Andrew graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in Organ and Vocal Music Education. He has taught choral music at the middle and high school levels in both Oklahoma and Texas and was also privileged to teach two years of handbells in the public school system. Andrew has served as Minister of Music or Organist at several churches throughout the Oklahoma/Texas region. Currently, Andrew resides in Tulsa and works as a travel agent and is the director of the handbell ensembles at Harvard Avenue Christian Church and Asbury United Methodist Church.
Jill Fite, Education – Contact Jill
Jill Fite grew up in Hobart, Oklahoma, where she was introduced to handbells in 1975. She rang in her church bell choir for only a few months before leaving for college. She earned bachelor and master degrees in geology and a master degree in education while focusing on being a military spouse, a mother, working in research, and teaching. Jill found her ringing passion at the First United Methodist Church in Springfield, VA. After five years there, where she attended handbell festivals, participated in her first ensemble and rang in Distinctly Bronze, she retired to her hometown determined to reintroduce handbells to the community. She became the handbell director at the church where she first rang. She currently directs a church choir, community choir, ensemble, and teaches children’s chime classes. Jill and her husband Pat raise cattle, grow fruits and vegetables, and have two grown sons.
Jeremy Springer, Publications/Social Media & Financial Advisor– Contact Jeremy
Jeremy has been ringing handbells for over twenty years. He enjoys that handbells have taken him all over the world throughout the years – Walt Disney World, San Diego, Atlanta, New Orleans, London (UK), Toronto (CAN), and more.
Jeremy is a founding member of the Oklahoma City Handbell Ensemble. When he is not ringing, he operates a bookkeeping and payroll firm in Oklahoma City. In his spare time, you can typically find Jeremy on stage or in the studio.
Kari Daelke, Member at Large – Contact Kari
Kari Daelke is a graduate of Valparaiso University (Indiana) and began ringing handbells in 1980 at the suggestion of her sorority big sis. That experience developed into a lifelong passion for ringing that has included concert tours; ringing in church and advanced community groups; and attending many area, national, and international ringing events such as Loire Valley Handbell Festival in France, Distinctly Bronze, and the Inaugural UK Bronze (England). She currently rings with Concert Bells of Fort Worth and serves as Vice President. Kari also rings and helps select/coordinate repertoire for the Glory Ringers at King of Glory Lutheran (Dallas). Professionally, she is a full-time graphic artist / pre-press manager at Rapid Reprographics in Dallas.
Sandy Milner, Oklahoma Representative – Contact Sandy
Sandy Milner is the Director of Administration for Restore Hope Ministries, a non-profit organization in Tulsa where she has worked for twenty-nine years. Sandy holds a bachelor degree in business administration. In her spare time, she knits, crochets, attempts to quilt, takes harp lessons, and plays handbells – a lot! Sandy has been a member of Tulsa Festival Ringers since September 2008 and is currently serving as president of the organization. She has played handbells in her church, First United Methodist Church in Broken Arrow, since 1991 and has directed the children’s handchime choir. Sandy is also a ringer for First United Methodist Church (Tulsa) and has substituted for University United Methodist, Arrow Heights Baptist Church, and Memorial Baptist Church. She currently resides in Broken Arrow with her husband, Matt, and their cat, Orson. Since their two children live on opposite coasts, they remain in Oklahoma to be halfway in between the two! Sandy is always looking for opportunities to share the music of handbells with others.
Mark Arnold, Texas Representative (North) – Contact Mark
Mark Arnold has been an active church musician for most of his life, currently serving as Director of Handbell Ministries at the First Baptist Church of Keller TX. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas, with Bachelor’s degrees in Music Education and Music Theory and advanced study in Computer Science. Mark’s professional experience includes many years of directing handbells, teaching school orchestras, leading adult and children’s choirs, playing horn in community ensembles, and an occasional gig playing bass in jazz or rock groups. In addition to leading workshops and clinics, he has published arrangements for both brass and handbell ensembles. In his “spare” time, he manages software development projects for a major North American transportation provider. Mark and his wife, Robin, have three grown children and reside in Fort Worth, Texas.
Amy Haller, Texas Representative (South) – Contact Amy
Amy Haller was born and raised in the Denver area and still calls Colorado home, even after living in Texas for 25 years. Her daughter, Sarah, is a graduate of the University of Alaska with a degree in biology. Her son, Chris, is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a degree in mechanical engineering.
Amy has been ringing handbells since 1991 and plans to continue as long as age and infirmity allow.
Cathy Taylor, Texas Representative (West) – Contact Cathy
Cathy Taylor has been involved in handbells most of her adult life. She has rung and directed in the church setting for over 30 years and loves attending just about any kind of handbell event. For 18 years she was the director of the Woodson Handbell Choir (later known as Abilene Gold), a group made up of special education high school students in the Abilene ISD. During that time, the group performed for numerous local groups and events, played the national anthem for the Texas Rangers, and presented programs at the Area 9 Summit in 2014 and at the AGEHR National Seminar in 2005.
Now retired from teaching, Cathy continues her involvement with special needs ringers by directing the Bell Peppers handbell choir at Disability Resources, Inc. in Abilene. She and her husband Bill, an experienced handbell equipment mover, have one daughter, Casey, who is a former member of the Woodson Handbell Choir and now rings in the Bell Peppers.