"Remembering Marie Botte"

NOTES DA CAPO - By John Puffenbarger
January, 1996

Marie Boette of Parkersburg died 21 November 1995 at the age of 100. She was a renowned musician, music educator, and civic leader who held many offices in West Virginia music education in the earlier years of this century. She was present at the beginning. In 1923 her name appears as secretary in the minutes of our earliest state music education records, more than ten years before the WVMEA was organized.

"Marie conducted many clinics during state music meetings in the days before the WVMEA," said WVMEA Retired Membership Chair Elizabeth Henderson, who was a student under Ms. Boette and a life-long friend. She described Ms. Boette as "a delightful person, full of pep and energy. She always made music exciting for her students."

"The people who knew her have a legacy of many years of giving from a person whose life was built around sharing her gift of music with anyone and everyone she touched," said Kathleen Reel of Belpre, Ohio. Reel became music director and organist at the First Presbyterian Church in Parkersburg after Ms. Boette resigned from the position.

Reel also stated, "Marie Boette was a woman of distinction. She was the epitome of a teacher; she focused on your accomplishments, not your faults. She was truly selfless and an inspiration to everyone. I am grateful to have had the chance to know her."

In 1932 Ms. Boette established Parkersburg High School's first a cappella choir. It was the first such choir in West Virginia. She also organized the first junior high school band in Wood County in 1922. Ms. Boette became music supervisor for Wood County Schools in 1950, and she also served as organist and music director at the First Methodist Church in Parkersburg, later moving to the same position at the First Presbyterian Church, where she served until 1962. In 1963 she composed the West Virginia centennial song, and Gov. Gaston Caperton presented her with the "Outstanding West Virginian" award in 1993.

Jean Singer, director of the choir at Parkersburg High School, took the choir to a birthday celebration for Ms. Boette in 1993. The celebration also featured the a cappella choir from West Virginia Wesleyan College, from which Ms. Boette had graduated and where she had worked as an associate professor for eleven years. Ms. Boette was surprised when she was invited to conduct Wesleyan's choir, and later during this birthday celebration she was on stage to play piano duets with Mrs. Reel. "At the conclusion she smiled and took a bow. She amazed everyone that she was capable of performing it (at age 98)," Mrs. Reel said.

Throughout her life Ms. Boette was devoted to involvement and service in her community, both local and state, touching the lives of all who knew her. She loved people. Her positive attitude served as an inspiration to others, always seeing the good in everyone and every situation. She will be missed.

(Thanks to Wayne Towner, Donna Huffaker, and Elizabeth Henderson of Parkersburg for back-ground information for this article.)