All requests for submissions to the website can be directed to Iowa State Chair.
Dick Crusinberry, Iowa Chair, is a native Iowan who recently returned to the state after living in Nebraska for many years. He started ringing almost 30 years ago with his local handbell choir in Nebraska and was one of the founding members of Bell-issimo, an auditioned community handbell choir in Lincoln, Nebraska directed by Nancy Youngman. He currently rings with his church’s handbell choir in Iowa City as well as Des Moines Concert Handbells.
Dick also plays trombone and has served as Principal Trombone in the Lincoln Civic Orchestra, as well as being a long-time member of the Lincoln Community Concert Band. He currently is a member of the Iowa City Community Band and the Iowa City New Horizons Band, and plays in Tempered Brass, a local trombone choir, as well as playing euphonium in his church’s brass choir.
After nearly 30 years, Dick retired from his practice as a urologic surgeon last year. He and his wife, Laurel, have four adult children and three grandchildren. They are also the proud parents of an English bulldog named Jack. Dick enjoys running, hiking and travel.
Mary Lee Parks
First United Methodist Church
2130 26th St.
Marion, IA 52302
Mary Lee Parks, Treasurer – Mary Lee has been directing handbell choirs at Marion First United Methodist since December of 1984 when the church received its first 3 octaves of Schulmerich handbells. Marion FUMC now has a 5 octave set of Schulmerich handbells plus doubles of D#6 up through D#7; a 3 octave set of Schulmerich handbells; as well as a 3 octave set of Suzuki chimes, and a 5½ octave set of Malmark chimes.
Her choirs “praise the Lord” once a month in church – including small groups during the summer – and ring a Christmas concert and a spring concert. This past Christmas a small ensemble also rang “real handbells” at Village Ridge, an assisted living community, and then enjoyed some audience participation with the Krystal Bells (colored bells)!
The “oldest” church choir has had the honor of ringing with the Cedar Rapids Symphony several times on their Holiday Pops Concert. Mary Lee graduated from UNI with a major in math and a minor in music.
She is the Service Manager for Future Systems, a payroll processing company, in Cedar Rapids. When not ringing, Mary Lee enjoys spending time with her three grown children, but actually enjoys spending more time with her three grandchildren!
First Lutheran Church
1709 23rd Street NW
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52405
319-396-6588 (H) 319-573-2631 (C)
Donna Sprague, Secretary – Donna was born in Fort Dodge, IA. She and her husband moved to Cedar Rapids in 1995 with MidAmerican Energy. Donna retired in 2007 and works 15 hours a week as the assistant to the Quality Manager at Timberline Mfg, Marion, IA.
The Spragues are a combined family with 5 grown children and 10 grandchildren. The oldest was married last weekend and the youngest is 8. Donna has been playing handbells for almost 40 years, and is very active in church on many levels. Her hobbies include reading, golfing, quilting, crocheting and learning new crafts.
Donna and her husband and are avid University of Iowa sports fans and attend most home games.
Christina “Tina” Elwood Gehrke
St. John’s Lutheran Church in Ely, IA
1592 Bramblewood Drive NE
Solon, IA 52333
Christina “Tina” Elwood Gehrke, Historian – Tina is currently Director of English Handbell Choir at St John’s Lutheran Church in Ely, Iowa. There she directs their handbell choir, St John’s Ringers, since 2007. St John’s Ringers have 2 octaves of Schulmerich handbells.
Tina is a graduate of Wartburg College where she was involved with the College Choir in Waverly, Iowa. She works at Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids and volunteers for the Iowa Valley Resource and Conservation Board (www.ivrcd.org) where she is President. In her spare time,
Tina plays the trumpet and french horn with her sons. Tina resides in rural Solon with her two sons and husband, Brad.
Bethesda Lutheran Church, Clarinda, IA
1339 Q Avenue
Clarinda, IA 51632
Yvonne Johnson, Western Iowa Representative – Yvonne directs a three octave handbell choir, a recorder consort and is organist at Bethesda Lutheran Church, a rural congregation near Clarinda, Iowa.
She received a BME from Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois, a MA from Columbia Teacher’s college and Orff Schulwerk certification from DePaul University.
Yvonne taught public school music in New Jersey, New York, Germany, Iowa and Minnesota before retiring to the family farm.
She studied Swedish classical vocal music in Stockholm and has given Swedish recitals in the Midwest. Every summer she teaches Swedish School, a week long workshop for elementary children.
St. John’s Lutheran Church
St. Donatus, IA 28337
Bellevue, IA 52031
Cat Walker, Eastern Iowa Representative – Cat is the handbell director of 2 octaves of Malmarks at St. John’s Lutheran Church in St. Donatus, IA and has been since she helped bring these beautiful instruments to the church in 2010.
She is also a member of the St. John’s Lutheran Church Chime choir in Bellevue, IA where she gets to play and guest directs once or twice a season.
Cat graduated from Cornell College with a degree in Russian and Economics, then went back to school for Early Childhood Education. She is an Assistant Teacher at Dubuque Montessori School and is currently working towards her Montessori Early Childhood credential. She lives in Bellevue with her husband and two children.
Patrick Gagnon, Chair – Patrick Gagnon is a music educator dedicated to the development of the tuneful person. He is a K-5 Vocal Music Specialist and HS Vocal Music director for the Eldora-New Providence CSD and is Director of Music at First Congregational UCC in Eldora. Patrick serves as Performance Chair for Hardin County Performance Series, and has done music direction for productions of Into the Woods, Les Miserables, The Secret Garden, Little Women, Oklahoma, and Godspell for the Department of Music and Theater at Iowa State University. He has served Handbell Musicians of America in numerous capacities as a board member both in Area 1 and Area 8 and as a member of the HMA Education Resource Task Force.
While living in Boston he served as Massachusetts Chair, Adult Weekend Chair, Directors’ Seminar Co-Chair, Festival/Conference 2009 Chair, and finally Chair-Elect of HMA Area 1. Patrick was a founding member and later associate director of Back Bay Ringers, and was a member of Merrimack Valley Ringers. Since moving to Iowa, he has served Area 8 as Iowa Chair and has served the six-year sequence on the Area 8 Executive Committee as Chair-Elect, Chair, and Past Chair, including serving as Chair for the 2016 Festival/Conference. He was a member and director of the North Central Iowa Handbell Ensemble, and is a founding ringer and director of Des Moines Concert Handbells.
Patrick will serve as the Education Chair for the 2020 Area 8 Festival/Conference in Overland Park, Kansas.