June 17, 2024

GMatt Betton

I.A.J.E. Founding Executive Director
Matt Betton Passes Away at 89

Matt Betton, Executive Director Emeritus of the International Association for Jazz Education and founder of Manhattan Enterprises, Betton’s Family Music Center, and Jazz Education Press passed away on November 3, 2002, at the Hospice Care Center in Loveland, Colorado.

As founding Executive Director of the National Association of Jazz Educators (later renamed the International Association for Jazz Education), Betton is credited with building the organization from the ground up during its first 20 years and establishing its reputation as the primary voice and leading authority for jazz education worldwide. Today, IAJE has upwards of 8,000 members in 42 countries.

“Matt’s contributions to the field of jazz education are incalculable,” said IAJE President and Indiana University Distinguished Professor of Music, David Baker. “He and his wife Betty were the rocks in IAJE’s foundation. Without their dedication and personal sacrifice, there would be no IAJE today.”

Born May 14th, 1913, Betton was a 1938 music education graduate from Kansas State University. The Matt Betton Orchestra was an institution in the Midwest United States from 1933 to 1973, and was designated the #1 College Dance Band in the nation by Billboard magazine in 1941. Over 150 students worked with the Betton Orchestra during its 40 year tenure, including noted vocalist Marilyn Maye.

Betton was founder of the American Federation of Musicians Local #169 (Manhattan, KS); co-founder of the KSU Summer Band Camp, co-founder of the National Stage Band Camps, musical director of NBC’s Joan Fairfax Show, and co-founder and director of the Stan Kenton Jazz Clinics.

Among his numerous awards are an honorary doctorate from Boston’s Berklee College of Music, the Kansas State University Alumni Medallion Award, and induction into the Hall of Fame for the International Association for Jazz Education, Kansas Music Educators Association, and Kansas State University Music Service Guild.

Most recently he was awarded the IAJE Humanitarian Award, given to individuals whose passion for teaching transcends the usual academic environment and exhibits the four elements of humanism: dedication, non-prejudice, altruism, and love. Matt is survived by his wife of 61 years, Betty Betton, Manhattan, KS; sister Sue Shurtz, Kansas City, KS; and children Linda Tippett, Martha Stitzel, and Matt Betton, Jr. Also surviving 5 grandchildren 2 great grandchildren.

A memorial celebrating Matt’s life will be held on Saturday, January 11, 2003, at the IAJE International Conference in Toronto, Canada. IAJE and the Kansas State University Foundation will also schedule a memorial celebration in the Spring of 2003 at the KSU Alumni Center in Manhattan, KS.

The family asks that notes of condolence and letters containing memories of Matt be sent to Betty Betton, c/o Linda Tippett, 1725 Yucca Ct., Fort Collins, CO 80525. Memorial contributions can be made to the IAJE Matt Betton Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 724, Manhattan, KS 66505, or to the KSU Foundation Matt Betton Scholarship Fund, 2323 Anderson Rd., Suite 500, Manhattan, KS 66502.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *