Congratulations and thank you for meeting
the Chocolate Challenge, by helping West Virginia Public Radio reach our
fundraising goal a day early! Friday
night, right before we reached the goal, I learned about a neat musical story.
Tom Burger, who in 1974 was the first Charleston producer for public radio, returned to the
air to help out with fund drive Friday night.
His wife Bettijane and daughter Renee were helping out by answering phones,
while the volunteers were being coordinated by Renee’s husband, Todd Frymyer,
who works here at WV Public Broadcasting in the development department.
During a brief lull in the calls,
Bettijane told me a story about one of their musical relatives:
My aunt, the
late Esther Dickey of Georgia, was the oldest surviving alumna of
Eastman School of Music when she died at the age of 97 a few years ago. At 97,
she was still playing the piano for her retirement community and by ear! Esther
was a classmate of composer and conductor Frederick Fennell, and her diploma
was signed by composer Howard Hanson.
The family has kept that diploma under
glass, and Bettijane very kindly agreed to share a picture of it with me:
You can also see Howard Hanson’s signature
Howard Hanson's Signature
From Bettijane's description and from what I've read online, Esther was a remarkable woman. Hearing about her and seeing these pictures of her diploma has had me thinking about music history and personal connections. It's special, even if I can't quite put together the right words to describe why I'm now so drawn to this story. I just know that I wanted to share some of her story, and these pictures, with others who might interested too.