Betty Garee had a penchant and drive to produce only the best quality performances and promoted her love of people and handbell music through the expression “Soli Deo Gloria,” which means, “Only to the Glory of God,” Betty graduated from Ridgewood High School, New Jersey, in 1944, stating under her yearbook picture, “Without music, life would be meaningless.” Educated at Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio, she received her bachelor’s degree in music theory in 1948 and then taught music theory at the graduate level at Oberlin, where she met her future husband, physics instructor William A. Garee. She then went on to Columbia University to receive an advanced degree in theory and piano.
Married in 1954, the Garees raised three children, James F., Anne E., and Joyce E. Garee. Simultaneously, Betty served as director of the Klokken and Campanola Ringers at the New Hackensack Reformed Church in Wappingers Falls, New York, from 1972 to 1985 with organist Robert F. Jutton and Rev. James A. Neevel. During that time, Betty and her Klokken Ringers toured the eastern seaboard, rang at local, state, national, and international festivals, and produced three vinyl recordings. DEBG Music Distributors of Saugerties, New York, recently produced The Betty B. Garee Anthology, a CD of her publications performed by professional choirs across the world.
Betty was named an Honorary Life Member of the Guild in early 1986. On May 27, 1986, she died at the age of 59, leaving those who continue to ring handbells, 39 publications of her original work, transcribed and adapted works, and a number of non-published personal arrangements.