by J.R. Smith

When I started with HMA (then it was AGEHR) in 2004, we had a communications committee that would still have face-to-face meetings twice per year. A group of only six, we would meet for two days to discuss Overtones, other resources, and music.

J.R. Smith
Publications Director

 

We invite you to help celebrate Dr. John Behnke’s retirement by sharing favorite stories, photos, and well wishes on our
Facebook page using the hashtag #ThanksJohnB

Since we were a small group who usually met in the hometown of one of the committee members, often in their home, we became more than just work acquaintances. For two days, we worked hard, we shared meals together, we told stories of our personal lives, and we became friends. It was with this committee that I became friends with my co-worker Dr. John Behnke, who will retire this summer.

John started with HMA shortly before I did, so I’ve had the pleasure of working with and getting to know him my entire time here so far. What I have learned most about John over the past 15 years is that he is the true definition of “people person.” While he always talks about striving to be a good steward to the organization, it’s the people that are foremost in everything he does.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of talking with John at an event, then you’ve no doubt noticed that he is always sure to remember not just people’s names and their role in handbells, but the other parts of their lives that are important to them. When I see him, he’ll talk not so much about what we have in common, that is our job in handbells, but he’ll ask, “So, how’s the barbershop singing coming,” or “Do you have anything big going on at the theater?”

As a people person, John was always excited to bring a new composer to the idiom. In his job as AGEHR music editor, he has overseen first-time publications by over 30 new composers. And he was just as eager to introduce music and instructional materials for beginning musicians of all ages. While a talented composer who can certainly write advanced music, he also uses his talent to produce quality pieces for all skill levels. He introduced his Chime In series of level 1 pieces that can be played on bells or handchimes. He also worked with Martha Lynn Thompson developing her four-book Tunes That Teach series, so that more resources would be available for handbells in schools.

When Jennifer Cauhorn took over as executive director, she offered to make my position as Overtones editor full-time, to include other publications assignments. I remember questioning whether there would actually be enough projects to keep me busy full-time. Well, John Behnke helped see to it that there would. It’s been a pleasure working with him to design our music covers and promo books. Sometimes the deadlines became a little more than stressful, and it was not always easy trying to communicate design ideas through email, but it always worked out in the end, and he never failed to offer gratitude and compliments when we’d see each other at the AGEHR Publishing booth at National Seminar.

Besides our jobs in handbells, a fun thing John and I have in common is being baseball fans. But while John is a true follower who knows the players, the statistics, and the standings, I really just go for the beer and the brats.

Since we work in a virtual environment and do not live near each other, we only see each other in person at National Seminar. I’ll certainly miss seeing him there each year, but we’ll hopefully keep in touch through email and Facebook. Who knows, maybe we’ll end up at the same baseball game some time.

Since we were a small group who usually met in the hometown of one of the committee members, often in their home, we became more than just work acquaintances. For two days, we worked hard, we shared meals together, we told stories of our personal lives, and we became friends. It was with this committee that I became friends with my co-worker Dr. John Behnke, who will retire this summer.

John started with HMA shortly before I did, so I’ve had the pleasure of working with and getting to know him my entire time here so far. What I have learned most about John over the past 15 years is that he is the true definition of “people person.” While he always talks about striving to be a good steward to the organization, it’s the people that are foremost in everything he does.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of talking with John at an event, then you’ve no doubt noticed that he is always sure to remember not just people’s names and their role in handbells, but the other parts of their lives that are important to them. When I see him, he’ll talk not so much about what we have in common, that is our job in handbells, but he’ll ask, “So, how’s the barbershop singing coming,” or “Do you have anything big going on at the theater?”

As a people person, John was always excited to bring a new composer to the idiom. In his job as AGEHR music editor, he has overseen first-time publications by over 30 new composers. And he was just as eager to introduce music and instructional materials for beginning musicians of all ages. While a talented composer who can certainly write advanced music, he also uses his talent to produce quality pieces for all skill levels. He introduced his Chime In series of level 1 pieces that can be played on bells or handchimes. He also worked with Martha Lynn Thompson developing her four-book Tunes That Teach series, so that more resources would be available for handbells in schools.

When Jennifer Cauhorn took over as executive director, she offered to make my position as Overtones editor full-time, to include other publications assignments. I remember questioning whether there would actually be enough projects to keep me busy full-time. Well, John Behnke helped see to it that there would. It’s been a pleasure working with him to design our music covers and promo books. Sometimes the deadlines became a little more than stressful, and it was not always easy trying to communicate design ideas through email, but it always worked out in the end, and he never failed to offer gratitude and compliments when we’d see each other at the AGEHR Publishing booth at National Seminar.

Besides our jobs in handbells, a fun thing John and I have in common is being baseball fans. But while John is a true follower who knows the players, the statistics, and the standings, I really just go for the beer and the brats.

Since we work in a virtual environment and do not live near each other, we only see each other in person at National Seminar. I’ll certainly miss seeing him there each year, but we’ll hopefully keep in touch through email and Facebook. Who knows, maybe we’ll end up at the same baseball game some time.

J.R. Smith
Publications Director

 

We invite you to help celebrate Dr. John Behnke’s retirement by sharing favorite stories, photos, and well wishes on our
Facebook page using the hashtag #ThanksJohnB

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