The “Walk of Stars” that borders the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox got a little longer Friday as nine new stars were added, representing more than $350,000 in donations to the Foundations for the Future campaign, which supports the maintenance needs of the theater.
At the ceremony, Jeff vom Saal, executive director of the Fox and the Spokane Symphony, called the theater an epicenter of creative thought and noted that many Fox theaters across the country have been turned into parking lots or coffee shops.
“I just can’t say thank you to everybody here, those that came before us, those that are going to come after us to protect and preserve this magical identity that we have in this incredible gem that we have in Spokane,” he said.
Music Director Eckart Preu then said a few words thanking the donors for their continued support of the Fox and the symphony.
“We always celebrate the stars onstage but we never really dedicate enough time to celebrate all the stars who make this happen …,” he said. “Thank you all so much for your dedication, not only to the arts, but also to the building, to this community. You’ve made this community so special.”
Among the star donors present for the unveiling ceremony was 93-year-old Joan Degerstrom, who was at the theater’s grand opening ceremony in 1931.
“Since I was here at the beginning, I thought, ‘I’ll be there for the end,’ ” Degerstrom said with a laugh about her decision to fund a star.
Degerstrom remembered thinking the Fox was the most gorgeous theater in the world and admired its art-deco style.
She has seen there “Gone with the Wind,” “Around the World in 80 Days,” the Pink Panther series and movies starring Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, as well as a performance by pianist Van Cliburn.
Degerstrom also recalls when the seats in the theater reached all the way to the lobby, an area now occupied by the Founder’s Gallery, and that you could see a movie for 25 cents.
Degerstrom was proud to receive a star because it showed her support of the symphony and the Fox.
“We have such a fabulous symphony and it’s important that everybody really supports it …,” she said. “It’s a big building to take care of so it’s really important that people support it.”
Bert and Patricia Ewers also were honored with a star, though Patricia, who has been a member of the Spokane Symphony Chorale since 1990, didn’t learn that until her name was read during the ceremony.
Knowing how much the theater meant to their parents, Bert and Patricia’s children surprised them with a star.
Patricia moved to the area after she was married and often brought her children, including Pauline, who flew in from Seattle for the ceremony, to see movies like “The Sound of Music” at the Fox.
“I’m flabbergasted,” Ewers said about the star. “It will hit me later. It’s a great honor.”
The other stars honored the following symphony supporters:
Lorrie and Paul Scott: Lorrie is president of the Spokane Symphony board of trustees.
Sherry and Frank Knott: In memory of Sherry, a friend of the Spokane Symphony.
Doug and Gail Belanger: Doug is immediate past president of the symphony’s board of trustees, and Gail is a longtime member of the Spokane Symphony Chorale and president of Musicfest Northwest.
Merrill O’Brien: The sponsor of the upcoming “Classics 3,” who passed away on Oct. 6.
David and Vernice Cohen: Longtime friends of the Spokane Symphony; Vernice sits on the board of trustees.
Susan and Jim Palm: Susan recently completed her term on the board of trustees.
Mr. and Mrs. John F. Kelley: Elizabeth Kelley, vice president of the symphony board, funded a star in memory of her parents.
The addition of these nine stars brings the total number of stars on the “Walk of Stars” to 55.
Stars are for sale, and Jennifer Hicks, director of development for the Fox and the symphony, said they hope to add more stars in the spring.
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