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May 6, 2021

Symphony to play tributes to Addie Ketner, Dale Highbee at Pops

In memoriam

Addie Ketner

Addie Ketner

In a photo from 2006,  an 81-year-old Dale Higbee stands next to a portrait of a younger Dale Higbee hanging in the front entrance hall of his Ellis Street home. Jon C. Lakey/Salisbury Post

In a photo from 2006, an 81-year-old Dale Higbee stands next to a portrait of a younger Dale Higbee hanging in the front entrance hall of his Ellis Street home.
Jon C. Lakey/Salisbury Post

By Susan Shinn

For the Salisbury Post

Over the years, Pops at the Post musicians have memorialized a handful of community members who have died between performances. This year, the symphony will pay tribute to two music lovers: Addie Ketner and Dr. Dale Higbee.

Ketner died last August at age 104, and was a longtime symphony supporter, her son Glenn says. She attended Pops as recently as 2015, and was for many years its oldest attendee.

“She always came over to St. John’s and listened from her car,” her son says.

Ketner became a member of St. John’s as a young married woman in the 1930s. When her husband, Glenn Sr., was alive, he too was able to join her for the event.

“Some of our choir members have a picnic on the front lawn every year, and they were always so cordial to my parents,” Glenn Ketner says. “They loved it, and she continued to do that after my dad died.”

Ketner last attended church on Easter Sunday 2015. She provided funds to renovate the church’s front steps, and they were rededicated in her honor on that day. After the service, she sat for a long time in a wheelchair atop the steps, soaking in every detail. Her son and the Rev. Rhodes Woolly, the church’s senior pastor, stood by her side. On Mother’s Day 2015, she enjoyed lunch out with her large family.

“For the first 103 years of her life,” Glenn Ketner notes, “she was still in charge.”

He chuckles as he remembers the 2009 Pops concert, when his mom’s car battery went dead.

“That was right after Pastor Rhodes had come to our church,” he says, “and Rhodes and I had our heads together under the front hood, trying to figure out how to connect the battery cables.”

Mishaps aside, his mom looked forward to the Pops concert, Glenn Ketner says. “She loved to hear the music across the way. It was always a special occasion for her.”

The Ketner Foundation has been a silver sponsor of Pops at the Post for the past few years.

“It’s such a unique community event,” Glenn Ketner says. “I just think it’s something we need to continue. It’s an opportunity for more people to enjoy classical and other music in an outdoor environment. It brings music to the people, instead of making people go to the music.”

Cellist Kevin Agner, a sophomore at Gray Stone Day School who’s also a member of St. John’s, will play “Elegy” in Ketner’s memory.

Higbee, a longtime musician and founder of Carolina Baroque, died in December at the age of 90. A native of Vermont, he came to Salisbury in 1955 to work as a psychologist. But he was best known as a musician.

“What would one do for Dale but Handel, his favorite composer?” Maestro David Hagy says.

The symphony will play “Allegro Deciso” from “Water Music.”

Handel originally composed the piece to be played on boats, Hagy notes. “I don’t know yet how we’ll do that, but space will be involved. The trumpets and horns will be separated from the orchestra. And we’ll have stereophonic timpanis. That’ll be fun for Dale if he’s off somewhere listening — and it’ll probably be loud enough that he’ll be able to hear it.”

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