Mary Ellen Bierck of Chapel Hill, an accomplished musician and music educator, wife, and mother, died Monday after a long illness. She was 93.
An accomplished musician, she played violin for sixty years with the UNC Symphony Orchestra, while also playing in various other groups over the years, including string quartets. Mary Ellen served in numerous leadership roles with the Chapel Hill Music Teachers’ Association, and taught music for a time in the Durham City Schools. She often applied the Suzuki method of violin instruction, and taught both children and adults.
Teaching violin since her arrival in Chapel Hill in 1948, Mary Ellen Bierck became well known in Chapel Hill for her steadfast dedication to teaching violin and to music instruction in general. Her reputation for compassionate instruction and musical excellence became widely known to the generations who studied under her, and to their families, making her a household name in local music circles.
She was born and raised in Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, the daughter of the Rev. W. Clyde and Ethyl Reed Barnes. She attended Grove City College, transferring from those more bucolic surroundings to graduate from Carnegie Institute of Technology, now Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh. Later, she earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from UNC. Succumbing to his charms, she married the late Professor Harold A. Bierck, Jr., a Professor of Latin American History at UNC-Chapel Hill, who passed away in 1989.
She is survived by two sons, Barnes Reed Bierck of Chapel Hill, and Richard Harold Bierck of Princeton, N.J., and three grandsons: Eric Richard Bierck and Jonathan Barnes Bierck, and Robert Harold Bierck.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to UNC Hospice and the UNC Department of Music. Services will be held Saturday, August 2, at 1 PM at the University Presbyterian Church at 209 E. Franklin Street in Chapel Hill.