Auditorium Named Seat Drive Gets Standing Ovation

By: 
Special to the Reporter
Staff Writer

Larry Ludlum, Sweetwater Municipal Auditorium Treasurer is pleased to announce that the Named Seat drive begun at before Christmas 2017, has been completed and was very successful.
In the early 1980’s, several major fundraisers were used to save and renovate the 1926 Sweetwater Municipal Auditorium. One of the most successful fundraisers was selling name plaques for the Auditorium seats. A Named Seat drive was reinstated as a fundraising campaign in November 2016.
The Named Seat campaign was repeated in November and December 2017. Forty-two seats were donated. Some seats were gifts for Christmas. Some were in honor of a family member or friend. Others were donated in memory of someone. The perfect Christmas gift was awarded to Linda Hunter, Margaret F. Bishop, Mila Gibson, Debby Bryant Gilmore, Dr. Ron Morris, Zollie C. Steakley, Homer Taylor, Ronnie and Sue Williams, and Wendell and Gloria Whittington.
Sisters June Wood Cornelius and Dale Wood Cornelius learned about the opportunity from another Sweetwater native living near them in Sun City South, Arizona. The friend still takes the Sweetwater Reporter and took them the article about the named seats.
The widowed sisters donated a Named Seat in memory of their parents, Manse and Garnet Wood. The couple married in 1926, the same year the Auditorium was begun. Manse had come to Sweetwater from Weatherford, Texas and his bride from Washington, Pennsylvania. Mrs. Wood was an accomplished vocalist and pianist. Her husband gave her a new baby grand piano. That piano was moved back and forth from their home to the Auditorium. Mrs. Wood accompanied many of the touring artists who performed there during the first decades. Later, June and Dale performed on that stage at ages two and four. The piano now resides at the Pioneer Museum in Sweetwater.
Another Sweetwater native who received the Reporter, Clif Bickerstaff, SHS Class of 1979, is a banker in Amarillo. Bickerstaff’s father, Ernest, had recently passed away. He donated a Named Seat for his dad who was highly respected by all who knew him.
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