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About Marie Boette

On July 27, 1895, Henry P. and Emma Buehler Boette welcomed a daughter to their family: Marie Dorothea Boette. Marie was a lucky child. Her father saw her talent for music and nurtured its growth, buying her first instrument, a hand pump organ. An upright piano followed.

"I was endowed with the gift of music. It was an 'open sesame' to me," Marie once said. "I played for the church choir when I was only 8 years old. Music played an early part in my life."

If Marie was endowed with musical gifts, she certainly never hoarded that talent but gave freely to others throughout Parkersburg and West Virginia.

Marie's Teaching Career

Marie was teaching music in Wood County before 1920, although her most enduring contribution during her early career must be the formation in 1931 of Parkersburg High School's a Cappella Choir, the first in the state. That tradition has since grown and blossomed as the choir has become known nationally and continued to travel the path she wrought for it.

In 1936, Marie left PHS and accepted a position as associate professor of music at West Virginia Wesleyan College. She lent her considerable talents to Wesleyan for a little more than 10 years. The college remembered her accomplishments and gifts, according her an honorary doctorate in 1982.

Marie left Wesleyan in 1947 to accept a position as organist and director of music at the First Methodist Church in Huntington. In 1950, however, Parkersburg again beckoned.

"I was in Huntington for three years when I said to myself, 'This is silly. You can do what you want to do in Parkersburg, so you might as well go home,'" she once said. And she did, returning to accept the role of organist and director of music at First Presbyterian Church.

Marie at First Presbyterian Church

In many ways, the music program at this church owes much of its strength to this talented woman. Nor was it just vocal music that drew her attention. Although the church's set of English Whitechapel handbells arrived after she retired, Marie was very instrumental in their acquisition.

Marie continued at First Presbyterian Church until 1962, when she retired and was named Director of Music Emeritus. It was during this time that she completed work on her book Singa Hipsy Doodle, a labor of love for her. Marie traveled across the state, gaining the confidence of residents and encouraging them to sing their favorite songs so she might record them. She captured for posterity a part of West Virginia's oral history.

Whatever your connection to Marie Dorothea Boette, and even if you never had the opportunity to know that indomitable woman, we hope you will enjoy her legacy: the Marie Boette Concert Series. She gave a tremendous amount of time and talent to us, and we certainly appreciated her century of musical excellence.

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