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Hooker Awards honor local patrons of arts
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Kathy Rogers (left), executive director of Piedmont Arts, stands with Hooker Award recipients Ron Haley, who accepted the award for River Community Bank, and Betty Lou Pigg (right), chairperson of the Piedmont Arts volunteer committee, during Wednesday’s presentation at Piedmont Arts. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
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Thursday, June 6, 2013

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin staff writer

A standing ovation capped off the 2013 Clyde Hooker Awards, presented Wednesday night at Piedmont Arts.

Longtime patron of the arts and Piedmont Arts member Betty Lou Pigg received one award, and River Community Bank received the other.

The Clyde Hooker Awards were established in 2003 to recognize the contributions that individuals and businesses have made to the arts and culture of Martinsville and Henry County. The award is named for the late J. Clyde Hooker Jr., a businessman and patron of the arts.

Barbara Parker, director of programs for Piedmont Arts, presented the award to Pigg.

“When I moved to this community and was hired by Piedmont Arts to coordinate the performing arts series, I was lucky enough to have a volunteer committee already in place,” Parker said, “and the chairperson was Betty Lou.

“Fifteen years later, she is still the chair of the committee, because she is one of the reasons for the success of Piedmont Arts On Stage. She understands the mission to educate, to entertain and to inspire the next generation of audiences.”

According to Parker, Pigg also has served on the museum’s board of directors, and is a TheatreWorks board member as well.

“Betty Lou is a volunteer and a passionate patron of the arts who truly believes in the difference the arts can make in a community like ours,” Parker added. “I can’t think of anyone more deserving of the Clyde Hooker Award for 2013.”

“I’m getting a wonderful award,” Pigg said, “but Piedmont Arts has given me so much more than that. It’s given me a chance to make a lot of new friends, to work with wonderfully talented people. I never cease to be amazed by their creativity here.”

Pigg received a standing ovation following her speech.

“There’s no award I would rather have than something with Clyde Hooker’s name on it. He meant so much to this community. He did so much for the community,” she added later.

Also receiving a Clyde Hooker Award was River Community Bank. Kathy Rogers, executive director of Piedmont Arts, presented the award, opening her speech with a quote from author Jean Vanier’s work “Community and Growth”:

“Many people are good at talking about what they are doing, but in fact do little. Others do a lot but don't talk about it; they are the ones who make a community live.”

This quote, she said, embodies the community-minded spirit of the bank.

“They quietly go about their business, supporting the community monetarily, but also encouraging employees to get involved in various nonprofits and activities,” Rogers said.

According to Rogers, River Community Bank supports a large number of organizations, including not only Piedmont Arts but also charitable organizations such as Grace Network, United Way, Relay for Life, American Red Cross and Boys and Girls Club, and other arts and cultural organizations including TheatreWorks, Fayette Area Historical Initiative, Reynolds Homestead, The Crooked Road and the Virginia Museum of Natural History.

“River Community Bank embodies the spirit of the Clyde Hooker Award and its namesake, which is a true commitment to community and the arts,” Rogers said.

Ron Haley, chief executive officer of River Community Bank, accepted the award.

“Knowing how prestigious the Hooker Award is, it was certainly an honor for our bank,” Haley said. “It exemplifies our commitment to our community.”

Also presented at the event were the 2013 Arts in Education Awards, presented by Heidi Pinkston, education coordinator at Piedmont Arts.

The awards, which recognize area educators who strive to expand arts experiences for their students, were presented to three educators: Pat Walmsley, Felicia Preston and Dr. Patsy Anderson-Rusmisel.

Walmsley, Pinkston said, taught for 22 years before becoming principal of Campbell Court Elementary School in Bassett, and she also serves as part-time theater manager for TheatreWorks Community Players.

In the past year, Pinkston said, Walmsley “submitted a grant to the Virginia Commission for the Arts and was awarded funding to bring the Kid Pan Alley song-writing workshop, and another grant to bring a LEGOs creative project to her school.”

Preston, who has been principal of Albert Harris Elementary School, spent nine years in the Martinsville City Schools as a counselor, student support specialist and assistant principal, and was a supporter of the Minds in Motion program. Also, Pinkston said, Preston is hosting a summer dance residency at Piedmont Arts for former Minds in Motion students.

Preston was attending a conference, so her father, George Craig, accepted the award on her behalf.

Anderson-Rusmisel, the third Arts in Education Award recipient, is director of Student Support Services at Patrick Henry Community College. Pinkston said that she regularly arranges to bring Student Support Services participants to Piedmont Arts and TheatreWorks productions to review the shows as an assignment.

Also presented at the event were four scholarships, presented by Kevin Lewis, Martinsville High School band teacher and recipient of the 1989 Nichodemus Hufford Memorial Scholarship.

Byron Carter, a rising junior at North Carolina A&T University, received the 2013 Work Scholarship Award, a $2,500 scholarship. Carter also received the award in 2012.

Lewis described Carter as “multi-talented — a drummer, bassist, pianist, composer and intuitive musician who also understands the art of creating a finished product in the sound studio.”

Three students received the 2013 Hufford Memorial Arts Scholarship for $1,000.

Michael Garrett Sirt, a 2013 graduate of Magna Vista High School, will attend Bluefield College in the fall and major in vocal performance.

Damaris Vivian Dailey, a 2013 home-school graduate who also attended dual-enrollment classes at PHCC, will attend Radford University as a member of the Radford Honors Academy with a major in music therapy.

Thomas Nash Tetterton, a 2013 graduate of Carlisle School, will attend Shenandoah Conservatory with a major in acting and musical theater.


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