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‘An inspiration to everyone, young and old’


By: Kim Hasty

It had been 73 years since Betty Howie performed Ravel’s “Sonatine” in its entirety for her graduate piano recital at Shorter University in Rome, Georgia. It was clear Tuesday afternoon that Howie, who recently celebrated her 94th birthday, still has the music in her. And she still has the music teacher in her as well.

For an entertaining and informative half hour, she tickled the ivories inside a reception room in the Carolina Highlands independent living facility. She took a room filled with appreciative residents and friends through centuries of classical music, turning from the keys only long enough to teach us all a thing or two about Mozart, Beethoven, DeBussy and Schumann.

“I would not be here if God had not made me with the gift of music,” she said, “which I still like to share at 94 years old. My agility may not be what it was when I was a student in Rome, Georgia, but this alum of 73 years thinks she can still play.”

The guest list included a treat for Howie, who was inducted into the Fayetteville Music Hall of Fame in 2012 for her immense musical contributions to the community. Dr. John D. Reams, Dean of the School of Fine & Performing Arts at Shorter, drove up to watch the recital and to thank her for being such an outstanding representative of the university.

Carolina Highlands Director Kelly Papagikos presented Howie with a colorful bouquet after the recital and hosted a small reception for her.

“Mrs. Howie, you are an inspiration to everyone, young and old,” Papagikos said. “Everyone in this room will retire one day from doing what they love. But you will never retire.”