Bethyne Serena Emery (Bischoff) of Chesterton, passed early Wednesday, March
19, 2008 following an extended illness. She had just turned 83.
She was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on March 15, 1925, the second child of
Arthur and Serena Bischoff.
She is survived by her daughters, Dollye Trowbridge and Jackie Wogick, and
granddaughters Jaydn and Jenna Wogick.
Bethyne is best known for her contributions to the Chicago / Northern Indiana
musical community where she taught and performed for near 30 years. A member
of the Valparaiso University music faculty for 25 years, Prof. Emery headed
the piano department, teaching hundreds of students the beauty of the
classical piano repertoire. With her talent and expertise, she coached
students on the difficult works of composers like Mozart, Brahms, Chopin and
She began her piano studies at the age of 6 and was winning competitions soon
thereafter, At age 10, after winning a regional piano competition, she was
awarded a trip to New York City. She was a frequent performer on local radio
stations and was a regular performer in area concert halls before graduating
She attended Michigan State University studying piano on full scholarship for
her Bachelor’s and Masters degrees in Piano Performance. Upon winning a
fellowship award at University of Michigan, she then completed her second
Masters degree in Music Theory. Following graduation, she won the renowned
Premier Prix and was awarded a Fulbright to study and concertize in Brussels,
Upon her return to the U.S., Bethyne taught piano at the University of
Missouri for four years where she was the first woman to be awarded a full
time faculty position. She concertized and traveled with members of the
Cincinnati Symphony, those travels taking her throughout the Midwest and
While in Chicago, she met and married pianist Lane Emery, the love of her
life. They had two daughters, Dollye and Jackie, for whom Bethyne served as
Sunday school teacher, coach, 4-H mom, tour guide, and “soccer mom” before
the term became common vernacular.
The family moved to Chesterton, in 1973 where she was quickly invited to join
the Valparaiso University music faculty. Under her instruction, her students
thrived and were quick to experience success at competitions and acceptance
into esteemed graduate programs. Each year of her tenure at the university,
her students took first prize at the revered university concerto competition,
raising the standard of university excellence, performing as guest soloist
with the full compliment of the university orchestra.
Emery had many varied interests. By far her favorite was spending time with
her girls and family who she loved sharing a cup of coffee and sweet roll
over lively conversation. Following the death of her husband in 1978, she
dedicated herself completely to the success and well-being of her daughters
and students. She was known as a classy, caring, loyal, generous lady giving
joyously to her students and family. She was quick to take on any travels,
and loved animals, always extending a warm caring hand to stray or neglected
critters. She was a wonderful and beautifully gifted woman, a terrific mother
and the “rock” of the Emery family.
A celebration of Bethyne Emery’s life will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
with services at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, March 25 at the Edmonds and Evans Funeral
Home, 517 Broadway in Chesterton.