Valerie Stephenson Obituary, Death – It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of a true icon in the world of handbells, Valerie Stephenson. A distinguished HMA Honorary Life member, composer, clinician, and author, Valerie left an indelible mark on the handbell community, and her legacy will forever resonate in the notes of the bells she so passionately played.
Valerie’s journey with handbells began in 1979 when she stumbled upon a set of bells in her school’s storage closets. Little did she know that this serendipitous encounter would spark a lifelong commitment to the art of handbell ringing. Her contributions to handbells in education were groundbreaking, earning her school, Trinity Episcopal, one of the first Exemplary Handbell Program in Education awards.
A true leader, Valerie dedicated over 14 years to the area leadership team in Louisiana and served as the Florida state chair. Nationally, she played a vital role in the Handbell Musicians of America (HMA) community. As the chair of the bylaws committee, Valerie’s meticulous work ensured the organization’s governance was sound and compliant. She also lent her expertise to the handbell notation committee, contributing to the development of standards that have enriched the handbell repertoire.
Valerie’s impact extended to event planning, where she played a pivotal role in national gatherings, including the 50th-anniversary celebration. Her writings, including a humorous column titled “Potpourri,” showcased her wit and love for the handbell community in every note.
As a composer, Valerie’s legacy is truly prolific, with over 250 published compositions that continue to be cherished by handbell ensembles worldwide. Her music, like her spirit, will endure, reminding us of the passion and dedication she brought to every ringing moment.
In celebrating Valerie Stephenson’s life, let us also celebrate the vibrant community she helped shape. Our thoughts and condolences go out to her family, friends, and all who had the privilege of ringing handbells alongside this remarkable woman. May she find eternal peace, surrounded by the gentle echoes of handbell melodies.