Tag Archives: Ouida Word Dickey

Ford Auditorium Renovation

Current view of Ford Auditorium stage, with seats removed and scaffolding installed to provide access to the ceiling.

As a student, Betty Anne Rouse Bell (52H, 56C) performed in Ford Auditorium – and scrubbed its stage. In May, the alumna who counts the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan among the many she has entertained with her voice returned to the source of so many great memories, this time with mini-sledgehammer in hand, to celebrate the beginning of a $6.3 million renovation and restoration of the beloved Berry icon.

Bell – whose name will grace the interior recital hall thanks to a generous surprise gift from her husband, Robert – joined many other alumni and friends at the event, which featured performances by student vocalist Carrie Sturniolo, trumpeter Leif Atchley (19C) and the Ross Magoulas-led Alumni Choir.

President Steve Briggs commended the more than 400 donors who have contributed to the LifeReady Campaign project thus far, noting that they “have banded together, each playing a part like the members of an orchestra, to accomplish something beautiful that transcends their separate contributions.”

Fittingly, some of the most significant gifts have honored alumnae like Bell whose lives found expression through their experiences as students in Ford Auditorium and the surrounding Ford Buildings. They include Dr. Ouida Word Dickey (50C, FFS), whose 90th birthday challenge spurred significant support for the renovation last summer; and Margaret Weaver Faison (36C), whose family has named the entrance hall in her memory.

Dickey took her turn with a sledgehammer, as did Audrey Morgan, an honorary alumna and Berry Board of Visitors member whose late sister, M. Bobbie Bailey, will be remembered with the naming of the Ford stage.

Following a plan developed by Kirkegaard Associates of Chicago, one of the nation’s foremost acoustics consulting firms, workers are even now breathing new life into the facility. Highlights of the renovation include installation of an all-wood ceiling, wood-carved acoustical paneling, adjustable acoustical banners, and sound reflectors; a 1,086 square-foot accessible stage with curved front; a new arched seating configuration with room for 366; a redesigned balcony with improved sight lines; and restoration of historic elements, among other enhancements, including updates to adjacent music department spaces.

There’s still time to lend your voice to the chorus of donors ensuring that Berry students have a performance venue worthy of their talents. Click here to make your gift supporting the Ford Auditorium renovation today.

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Finding Kate CoverKate Macy Ladd visited Berry only once in her life, but those three days in 1915 inspired a lifetime of support. The legacy of her generosity is still evident today in the form of Lemley Hall, the Road of Remembrance, Memorial Library, and, of course, the Ladd Center, the only Berry building that actually bears her name.

The story of the New Jersey philanthropist – an heiress to the Standard Oil Company – is chronicled in Finding Kate: The Unlikely Journey of 20th Century Healthcare Advocate Kate Macy Ladd, a new book by Meryl Carmel. It was during her 10 years of research on the project that the author learned of Ladd’s strong ties to Martha Berry and her schools.

As Carmel recounted, Ladd’s visit to Berry was driven by a desire to seek out causes and people she could support. Joining her was husband Walter – a future Berry trustee – her Pomeranian dog and good friend Alice Lemley. During a train layover in Atlanta, she ordered boxes of chocolates for the Berry students.

“For many of those children, no one had given them a gift like that before,” Carmel noted.

Ladd was so inspired by the students’ gratitude that she continued to send them Christmas chocolates every year until her death in 1945.

Kate Macy Ladd Portrait

A color version of this Albert Herter portrait hangs in the Court of Honor at The Martha Berry Museum.

“She describes the experiences she had with the children at Berry to be some of the most interesting of her life,” the author said.

Beyond her own donations, Ladd helped lay the groundwork for the “Berry Pilgrims,” groups of wealthy Northerners who would come to Berry to see the campus and donate money to the school. As detailed in Berry College: A History, by Drs. Ouida Word Dickey (50C, FFS), and Doyle Mathis (58C, FFS), these pilgrimages were led by Emily Vanderbilt Hammond, another prominent philanthropist who first met Martha Berry at Ladd’s home.

Ladd’s opinion of the Berry founder was such that she eventually established a private trust to provide her with a private income. She also helped fund significant reconstruction and landscaping at Oak Hill in the late 1920s.

Interestingly, the only structure on campus named for this early friend of Berry wasn’t built until the 1960s, long after her death. As the author explained, Ladd was a very selfless person who was less interested in the credit for the donations and more concerned with the giving itself.

“She had a heart for people, for all kinds of people,” Carmel stated.

By student writer Kendall Aronson

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Ouida Dickey Birthday Challenge Banner

Ford Auditorium Rendering

Architectural rendering of Ford Auditorium renovation.

Dr. Ouida Word Dickey (50C, FFS) didn’t set out to become a Berry legend, but 72 years after she first arrived on campus as a freshman in 1946, it’s impossible to imagine the college without her. As the former student, faculty member, administrator and president of the Berry Alumni Association prepares to celebrate her 90th birthday later this summer, family and friends have come up with a unique way to honor her that also benefits Ford Auditorium, another Berry icon turning 90 in 2018.

The $500,000 Ouida Dickey Birthday Challenge has two goals – to name the Alumni Center living room for Dr. Dickey and to generate support for the planned $5.3 million renovation of Berry’s signature venue for music performance and education. Gifts of any size will be matched by the generosity of an anonymous donor, doubling their impact.

The goal is to complete the challenge in time for Dr. Dickey’s birthday July 27. Make your gift today by visiting berry.edu/gift and choosing “Ouida Dickey Birthday Challenge” in the drop-down menu or mailing a check to Berry Advancement Office, P.O. Box 490069, Mount Berry, GA 30149-0069. Contact Scott Breithaupt (91C, 96G) at sbreithaupt@berry.edu or 706-238-5897 for more details.

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Past and present collided (sometimes literally) at the 50th anniversary celebration of men’s soccer at Berry. More than 100 alumni and friends turned out, including a trio of former head coaches – Bob Warming, Bob Pearson and Bret Simon – who helped establish the world’s most popular sport on the world’s largest campus. Joining them was Dr. Ouida Word Dickey (50C, FFS), wife of the late Garland Dickey (42C, FFS), the athletic director under whose leadership men’s soccer was added in 1962.

As part of the two-day event, organized by current coach Richard Vardy, the alumni booters had an opportunity to test their skills (not to mention their fitness level) in a series of scrimmages against each other and the varsity players of today. To glimpse Berry’s soccer pioneers in the prime of their careers, click here to view the extended highlight video prepared by Coach Vardy that was shown at the anniversary banquet.

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