Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Epworth Villa shares choir’s history


The Epworth Village Choir was started by residents Betty Harding and Winona Hampton. Harding and Hampton each taught music for several years before moving to Epworth Villa. Since that time, the choir has grown from 12 members to 32 members. Choir members have a collective 1,510 years of experience in choral singing. A performance from Annual Conference 2020 can be viewed on the conference YouTube channel. Photo submitted by Ginger Howl.

The Choir began in the first year or two that Epworth Villa was open to independent living residents.

Among the first to move in was Betty Harding and her husband. Harding, who moved to Epworth Villa in September 1991, is a pianist who taught piano at the college in Chickasha. Soon after, Winona Hampton and her husband moved in. Hampton taught music at Rose State College and was an opera coach at Inspiration Point.

Hampton and Harding took the initiative to start a choir which began with less than a dozen singers. Two of those singers, Rose Marie Leveridge and Louise Randall, are still in the choir today.

Harding, who celebrated her 100th birthday last December, accompanied the choir until 2020, and continues to play for vesper services every week. In 2009, Wes Howl, an accomplished musician, moved to Epworth Villa and began playing duets with Harding, and now he accompanies the choir as well.

When Hampton could no longer direct the choir, Mattie Myers volunteered to do her best. She directed for many years. When she retired, Jimette McLean stepped up to the challenge, directing and growing the choir for eight more years. In January 2020, Ginger Howl took the choir leadership position. Howl has been in music ministry at various churches since 1962.

The Epworth Villa Choir performed for the 2020 Annual Conference. The performance featured a duet with Harding playing the piano and Howl playing the organ. The performance is available on the OKUMC Communications YouTube channel.

The choir has grown from the initial 12 singers to a roster of 32 today. Currently, the average age in the choir is 81.5. The median age is 83. Those 32 singers, with their director and accompanist, have a combined experience in choral singing of 1,510 years.


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