On the wall of Paula Beshears Wamsley’s music studio is a handmade poster that asked her students, “Have you made music today?”
On one side is “just notes,” and on the other is “truly music,” with qualities such as dynamics, tempo, articulation and phrasing as the marks that make the difference.
In her nearly 59 years on this earth, Paula never just played the notes. She made music.
Paula died Saturday, November 4, 2017 in her home in Sharpsburg, Ga., after fighting cancer for two years. Her final days – much like her life – were filled with family, faith and music.
Paula endeavored to be excellent in all pursuits: teaching piano students, raising a family, traveling, serving her church. In those pursuits, she was unfailingly positive and incredibly kind.
She was born in Flint, Mich. on November 15, 1958, and mostly grew up in nearby Fenton. She earned her bachelor’s degree in music from Michigan State University in 1980, then went to East Carolina University to pursue a masters in piano performance. In the master’s program there, she met Bryan Wamsley, a clarinetist and band director from Burnsville, Miss.
The two were engaged within months. They married on May 21, 1983. After earning their master’s degrees, they moved to the Atlanta metro area, living in Fairburn, Alpharetta and Sharpsburg over 30 years.
Paula dedicated her life to teaching children music, and she influenced thousands of kids through private piano lessons, church children’s choirs and supporting Bryan’s career as a middle school band director. She was a charter member and former president of the North Fulton Music Teachers Association, where her efforts created a vibrant, supportive community of music educators.
She was always in demand as an accompanist because she could follow anyone, and she was an accomplished pipe organist. She served as the church organist at College Park First Baptist, Fairburn First Baptist, John’s Creek Baptist, Parkway Baptist and John’s Creek United Methodist.
In semi-retirement, Paula and Bryan were happiest spending time with their six grandchildren and exploring their love of travel and adventure. Their pull-behind travel trailer took them all the way to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and up and down the shores of Lake Michigan, among many other trips.
Paula never wanted to miss out on any fun to be had, whether on a trip or a family gathering, and would help schedule long days full of activities. She was a lover and architect of many Beshears family gatherings, including traditions such the Big Ivy Cookoff, the Feliz Navidad conga line, the family Inspiration Award, the Big Ivy Bowl and the Holiday Euchre tournament.
She is survived by her husband, Bryan Wamsley of Sharpsburg, Ga.; children, Marilyn DeLong and her husband Joshua of Albany, Ga., and Adam Wamsley and his wife Cayla of Sharpsburg; grandchildren, Loralye DeLong, Noah Wamsley, Wesley DeLong, Logan DeLong, Emma Charlotte Wamsley and Andrew DeLong; parents, Benjamin and Ethel Beshears of Purlear, N.C.; siblings, Dennis and his wife Jill Beshears of Purlear and Rebecca and her husband Gary Smith of Purlear; mother-in-law, Anita Wamsley of Palmetto, Ga.; nieces, Erica Perel of Hillsborough, N.C., and Ashleigh Cooper of Winston-Salem, N.C; nephew, Ben Beshears of Cornelius, N.C.
The family will receive friends at Higgins Hillcrest Chapel on Tuesday, November 7, 2017 from 6-8 p.m. A funeral service will be held at Faith Lutheran Church in Sharpsburg, Georgia on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 2 p.m. Funeral service will be held at Yellow Hill Baptist Church in Purlear, North Carolina, on Friday, November 10, 2017 at 2 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the North Fulton Music Teachers Association. Donations in Paula's memory can be made with a check made out to NFMTA and should be mailed to the address below: Nancy Dunn, NFMTA Treasurer, 4675 Weathervane Drive, Johns Creek, Georgia 30022. Please include donation in Paula's Memory in the memo line.