Here are your Heritage Ringers for the Fall 2019 Season:
Julie Anderson joined Heritage Ringers in 2012 upon moving to Madison from Greenville, Ohio. She grew up in Arlington, Virginia, and began ringing bells at the age of 10 when her church bought 3 octaves with S&H greenstamps! She rang in various groups for over 25 years until moving to the Midwest. Due to location and scheduling while raising three children, she was unable to ring for the next 20 years and is thrilled to be ringing again. After 7 moves in 30 years, Julie hopes Madison is “it”!
Julie and Biff, her husband of 36 years, are members of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, where she sings in the choir and rings bells. She works full time as a physical therapist, and enjoys traveling, reading and spending time with her children and two grandsons.
Fred Baier was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. After graduating from Texas A&M University, he accepted a position in the US Army intern program and he and his wife, Cindy, moved to Huntsville to begin his initial two year training assignment at the Missile Command on Redstone Arsenal. Thirty-six years later he retired from his position as the Financial Management Division Chief for the Cruise Missile Defense Systems Project Office. He enjoys playing tennis, bowling, reading, attending yoga classes and spending time with his family. He is particularly blessed in his retirement to be able to spend significant time with his grandchildren. His musical background includes studying the piano for 10 years beginning at the age of six and playing in his high school marching band. He began playing hand bells late in life when Director, and former Heritage Ringer, Deanna Guerkink found a position for him in the hand bell choir at Faith Presbyterian Church. He is very grateful to be able to play along with the other musicians of the Heritage Ringers.
Heather Batchelor has rung with the Heritage Ringers since 2006, and has been ringing handbells for more than 20 years with choirs in Tennessee and Alabama. Heather currently attends Asbury United Methodist Church in Madison, where she directs the Asbury Ringers handbell choir and has served as children’s choir director. Heather is also involved in musical theater as a performer and choreographer. She has trained in numerous dance disciplines in both the U.S. and in France and was on the dance faculties of the Dance Arts Center in Cookeville, TN and the Dance Company in Madison. Heather is presently the resident choreographer for Footlights Community Theater in Athens. She is also a trained vocalist and honed her early skills by traveling around the Southeastern U.S. with her folk-singing parents and sister. Professionally, Heather is a Realtor with EXIT Leon Crawford Realty and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Tennessee Technological University. In her “spare” time, she enjoys playing volleyball, cooking, traveling, photography, and spending time with her husband, Mike, and sons, Brett and Blake.
Mishele Beaman joined the Heritage Ringers for this season. Her love for music comes from growing up in church, singing old hymns and listening to her mother play piano. She played alto saxophone in her middle and high school bands and loved performing. Mishele has sung in various church choirs and directed children’s choirs for many years. Her love for bells comes from playing in the bell choir in one of her previous churches. At her current church, First Baptist Church of Meridianville, she arranged the purchase of the bells she once played and has directed the handbell choir since 2011. She also sings in the adult choir.
Mishele graduated from University of Alabama in Huntsville with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She has worked in the advertising and government contractor worlds as a graphic artist and a cost analyst. She is a freelance artist specializing in pet portraits and has illustrated a couple of children’s books. Her hobbies include drawing, painting, reading, scrapbooking and spending time with her family. Mishele is a native of Huntsville and has been married for 32 years. She and her husband, David, have raised two boys, Zach and Seth in the New Market area. They have 3 beautiful grandchildren.
Sara Beth Dortch began ringing with Heritage Ringers in January of 1995. After a brief sabbatical, from 2012-2015 to finish her bachelor’s degree in music education, she is excited to be ringing again. She privately teaches flute, violin, piano and guitar, as well as being certified to teach Pre-K – 12th Grade music in the classroom. She plays flute and violin in the dance band, Tzignal Orkestar, and plays flute with the Twickenham Winds.
Sara Beth is married with four children and two grandchildren. When she isn’t playing music, she enjoys gardening, bicycling, and canoeing.
Rhonda Gaede began ringing handbells in 1981 at Bethany Lutheran Church in Austin, Texas where she worked for Motorola after graduating from Southern Methodist University with an Electrical Engineering degree. She also sang in the choir at Bethany and played clarinet in the instrumental ensemble. Knowing that she wanted to be an educator, Rhonda went to graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin, receiving her Master’s Degree and then her Ph.D.
While in graduate school, she met and married Glen Long. His Army career took them to West Point where Rhonda worked for IBM and rang in a handbell choir. After leaving West Point, she moved to Kansas, to Virginia, and then to Huntsville. During this period, Rhonda was in handbell “withdrawal”!
Upon moving to Madison, she was ecstatic to hear that Messiah Lutheran Church was buying handbells and starting a handbell choir in 1998. After a short period, the music director decided that he was needed elsewhere and put Rhonda in charge of directing the handbell choir and she’s been at it ever since. Missing ringing, Rhonda formed a quartet and has done some solo ringing. Sadly, the quartet members don’t ring regularly any more but do get together to ring for special occasions. The desire to ring has been filled by the Heritage Ringers since 2006.
Ron Jones had been ringing bells since 1981 at St. James Presbyterian Church. Near his hometown of Deer Park, Texas, the small church found its first 2-octave set of handbells in a trash dumpster! Since then, he continued ringing through to present day.
After graduating from Texas A&M University with a degree in Electrical Engineering, Ron moved to the Washington, DC area to begin his career in computer and network security. While there, he found his lovely wife in 1996, Michelle. As the children started growing up, he and Michelle moved down to Huntsville in 2003 to be closer to family, and to provide a family-friendly neighborhood for their kids, Collin and Rachel, to grow up in. At one time or another, each family member had joined in the fun in ringing in their church’s bell choir.
Over the years, Ron has rung many church choirs in Texas, Maryland, and Virginia prior to settling in Alabama. Along the way, he had the opportunity to ring in multiple solos, ensembles, clinics, and festivals. In 2000, Ron also directed a junior bell choir for middle-school and high-school students. While he enjoyed helping younger ringers with the art, Ron simply loves to ring. In 2014, he was given the opportunity to join Heritage, which gave him the chance—even after more than 35 years of ringing—to learn new things from a group of highly-skilled and expert ringers.
Ron is also the manager of Heritage Ringer’s website.
Lori Kegley has been playing bells since high school in various church choirs throughout the years. She joined the Heritage Ringers in August, 1999. After a brief sabbatical from 2014-2017 to be more involved in her son’s High School Band years, she is thrilled to be back with the group. She is currently employed as a Certified Residential Real Estate Appraiser for Griffin Appraisals and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Tennessee. Lori is married to her husband Jeff, and they have one son, Christopher, who is attending Auburn University. In her spare time, her favorite place to be is by the sea. The entire family enjoys scuba diving every chance they get!
Julee Martin began ringing with the Heritage Ringers in 2009. She started ringing in 1989 at the Glorieta, New Mexico Baptist Music Camp. She has continued ringing in various handbell choirs for more than 27 years, having participated in a variety of church handbell choirs and other handbell ensembles in both California and Alabama. Julee has a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Education with a Minor in Music from Baylor University. Julee has directed a variety of children’s musical groups including vocal choirs, instrumental ensembles as well as handbell and handchime choirs. She also delights in playing flute and has performed with several orchestras and small groups.
Born and raised in Livermore, California, Julee moved with her husband and two boys to Madison, Alabama in 1997. In her spare time Julee enjoys traveling, sewing, reading, sports, jigsaw puzzles and spending time with her family.
Anna Pruitt began ringing in the Heritage Ringers full time in 2019. She has been playing handbells at Trinity United Methodist Church since being in the youth handbell ensemble, and has substituted in various groups including the Heritage Ringers over the years. Since graduating from Auburn University in 2017, she works in Huntsville as a Software Engineer, and in addition to ringing she plays with the UAH Community Orchestra and the Trinity Woodwind Quintet.
Lucas Pruitt has been ringing handbells at Trinity United Methodist Church for many years where he performed in the youth handbell group in the past and substitutes regularly in several other groups currently. In addition, he has performed as a member of the Trinity Handbell Quartet and has joined his church in attending several local handbell events, such as the Tennesee Valley Handbell Association Festival, and regional handbell events, such as the Area 6 Handbell Festival.
Chad Rutherford has been a member of the Heritage Ringers since 2008, and has enjoyed every minute of it. He has rung handbells for a “good long time” in various church choirs, beginning with the First United Methodist Church in Paragould, Arkansas as a high schooler and extending to his present church, Latham United Methodist Church in Huntsville. Chad has a B.S. (Alabama) and M.S (Georgia Tech) in Mechanical Engineering and has worked as an engineer since he came to Huntsville in 1998. Chad’s hobbies include reading, art, cooking, sports, and teaching Sunday School, and spending time with his wife, Michelle, and his three children (Brandon, Jenna, and Jason).
Claire Strand is a South-Alabama native, having been born and raised in the beautiful Eastern Shore region of Mobile Bay. She and husband Stephen moved to North Alabama for Stephen’s job on the arsenal in 1992. Claire and Stephen have three children. The eldest William attends the University of Alabama, the middle Katrina attends Auburn, and the youngest Michelle attends Sparkman High School. All three love music and marching band. Claire was a stay-at-home mom until 11 years ago when she was hired as the Director of Outreach Ministries at Messiah Lutheran Church in Madison, AL. It was at Messiah that Claire was introduced to and fell in love with handbells.
Sean Teater joined the Heritage ringers during the Fall 2017 season, and is happy to be a part of it. He has been ringing bells for 7 years, as well as been involved in several choirs. He rings with the Carillonneurs at Trinity United Methodist Church (UMC) where he also sings in the Sanctuary Choir and the Vocal Ensemble. He is very excited to continue to ring in this group and grow as a musician and ringer!
Barbara Wood has been playing handbells since 1972 when her church, First Baptist in Athens, started a handbell choir. She has been a member of Heritage Ringers since 1989. She also likes to solo ring and has rung for many events in the Athens area and at church.
Her musical background began with piano lessons at an early age up through high school. She played flute and was majorette in the high school band. She got a Bachelor’s Degree in Home Economics (textiles and clothing) from Mississippi State University. Barbara and her husband have four children and six grandchildren. She was a stay-at-home mom until about 14 years ago when she started working as Music Secretary at First Baptist Church in Athens, where she and her family attend. She is Children’s Choir Coordinator and Director of 4 & 5 year old children’s choir. She loves teaching preschoolers about Jesus through music.
In her spare time, she loves spending time with her family, sewing, cooking, decorating and attending children’s choir and handbell conferences.
Barbara serves as Vice President of Heritage Ringers.