Bettye Gehring Gardner

November 9, 1918March 13, 2014

Bettye Gehring Gardner danced her way into the arms of her Lord and Savior on Thursday, the 13th of March 2014, at the age of 95.

Bettye was born on the 9th of November 1918, in Houston, to Herman F. Gehring and Mae Runyan Gehring.

Bettye was an icon in the Houston entertainment world for decades. She was known for her singing and dancing, and even more, for the teaching of both of those talents to others. Bettye sang for many years with the Houston Grand Opera and was awarded the Tommy Tune Award by Theatre Under the Stars for her outstanding achievement and contribution to the theatre community of Houston. She was a founder of Opera in the Heights and head of the Merry Go Round Theatre at the Alley Theatre for 25 years.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her brother, Herman F. Gehring, Jr.; her sister, Ella Mae Gehring; and nephew, Larry E. Gehring. She is survived by her nephew, Kurt Gehring and his wife Greta, of Amarillo; her sister-in-law, Saranne Gehring, also of Amarillo; two grand-nephews, Dr. Taylor Gehring and his wife Chelsea, and Reid Gehring and his wife Natasha; grand-niece, Lauren Gehring Eames and her husband Andrew; six great grand-nieces and nephews, Madeline, Laina, Charlotte, Colter, Aubrey, and John David.

Friends are cordially invited to a visitation with the family from five o'clock in the afternoon until seven o'clock in the evening on Wednesday, the 19th of March, in the drawing room of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston.

The funeral service is to be conducted at ten o'clock in the morning on Thursday, the 20th of March, in the Jasek Chapel of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons.

Interment is to follow, via an escorted cortege, at Forest Park Westheimer Cemetery in Houston.

Bettye was always full of wisdom, wit, and love for those around her. Even as her health began to fail her, she maintained her incredible positive spirit and her faith in God. No doubt, she was welcomed into Heaven with “Job well done, my good and faithful servant.”



  • Visitation with the Family Wednesday, March 19, 2014
  • Funeral Service Thursday, March 20, 2014


  • Interment is to follow, via an escorted cortege, at Forest Park Westheimer Cemetery in Houston.

Bettye Gehring Gardner

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Bethina (Sherman) McCool

August 7, 2014

My sister and I were in the Merry Go Round Theatre back in the 70's. Mom would drive us from the "country" (Westheimer & West Belt) downtown to class every Wednesday. With acting lessons and her joyful encouragement we came out of our shyness. We both continued exploring the arts at HSPVA - drama for me, ballet for my sister. I can still see her beautiful face and smile. She was truly a beautiful woman through and through.

Aubrey Benne'

April 2, 2014

Bettye,Thank your all that you taught me in the many years we spent together at the advice of (Your other student & friend) my Mother Cindy. I'm grateful the times you pulled my hair when I first started to get me to have better posture. You really taught me great discipline rather quickly.

I'll never forget how many times your eyelashes had a mind of their own during our lessons. Nor,will I forget the beautiful Mitsouko at your side ever the faithful companion. I appreciate the small things you did for me such as giving me a scarf from Ireland to keep my throat warm & working on an acting scene or monologue in addition to voice when our lessons would often run over.

Due to us working together multiple times a week I received a scholarship for voice & later got the courage to move to New York to further my career. I remember our last conversation & how I was moved to tears by telling you what you meant to me & you were getting choked up too. Saying that "I made your year & such."

You will never know what being a lifelong member of The Ping Goo Club has done for my confidence as a person & as a singer. Yes, I do have my Mother's voice but,I am grateful to have had YOU to nurture my God given talent.

When I started this path with you I was barely a shy teenager I who begged my Mother & Nonna for lessons until they relented to at least twice a week. I a not only very fortunate for you to have helped foster my Mother's talent but, also mine.

Every time, I have people in the industry praise my voice & control I always tell them I took voice lessons from The Greatest Teacher Bettye Gardner. I learned so much about legit voice as well as acting from you. To this day I can do a cold reading masterfully & then perform it in front of a showcase within minutes of getting the material.

I think unless people knew you were with The Alley they just thought you we're spectacular in teaching voice. You were a master at so many things. I'll never forget the painting of you over your piano in the beautiful green dress,The K you kept in your kitchen & the smells of your pink home on Ingold for all those years. I appreciate all the encouragement you gave me & how a piece of you will always be imbedded in my memory.

Until we meet again in heaven when I'm very old May you be with Mitsouko sitting at your side, With Mr.Alberti close & Your heavenly choir!

I Love You Always XO Aubrey

P.S. I'm grateful you made me the woman I am & that we will never say goodbye!

Jennifer Lewis Bennett

March 26, 2014

Yes, I must smile and attest that I still "ping goo" regularly. I was so fortunate to study with Bettye, loved her encouragement and positive spirit, her elegance and grace, such a beautiful person. I send love and appreciation to her family.

Susan Jircik McClure

March 25, 2014

My first introduction to the theater was through Betty Gardner and the children's acting program at the Alley Theater. It has been more that 40 years since my classes there but I am still using some of the techniques she taught me! However what I remember most about her was her love of theater and her incredible exuberance! She has touched many lives and will be missed by all.

Clare Fields

March 25, 2014

I, too, was a proud member of the 'Ping Goo' club and loved Bettye's incredible spirit and classic elegance.

Tonia Washington

March 25, 2014

I was lucky enough to study with her in college. She was such a sweet and wonderful person to work with. I am glad to see she was able to share her great spirit for such a long time. I have never forgotten working with her and forever will I always remember her "Craznee aznee pue." Thank you, Ms. Gardner.

Gary Bankston

March 24, 2014

I have been a proud member of the "Bettye Gardner Ping-goo Club" from 1980 to date. Although I didn't spend as much time working with her as I should've, it's truly amazing how much I retained from her "vocaleezes" (her word, not mine) not to mention the proper way to "negotiate my passagi". I bought an innumerable amount of the famous Ping-oo tenor tapes as my daily dedication to them soon left them,one after the next, rendered.
My Ping-oo obsession lasted for many years. I was diligent. My goal was to (so I thought at the time) keep my voice in shape and healthy. For forty years I worked onstage in Musical Theater, all the while keeping true to Bettye's vocal philosophies.
Now I am in the 3rd act of my life and, much my surprise, I became a voice teacher. I teach in my home and Bettye is here everyday with us. Her vocaleezes and passagi negotiations still live on as well as the rest of the cassette tape that I memorized long ago.
I was never able to express to her how she'd helped me by teaching me so well. My lessons are flat-out Bettye Gardner plagiarisms but I have a feeling that Bettye wouldn't mind.

Jim Bernhard

March 22, 2014

I first met "Miss Bettye"around 1950 when she tried to teach me the box step at Miss Fantham's School of the Dance. Fifty years later I had the chance to dance with her again in "Follies." We agreed I was no better than I had been at age 12! She was a lovely person, a fine teacher, and a charming dance partner.

ron jones

March 20, 2014

Bettye was one of the most truly gifted artists I have ever known. She could do it all and she did so with grace and stature. She was always so kind to me, always eager to know what show I was working on and when she could come!! She was a wonderful treasure and her legacy will live on!!

Jeanene Johnson

March 20, 2014

Betty was my muse and inspiration. May she rest in peace.
Jeanene Johnson-Sollenne