Recently Mr. and Mrs. Tex Ritter purchased honored chairs in the Skipworth Performing Arts Center for their daughters, Cathey and Shelley. Both girls are former Big Red Band members.
Cathey Ritter Scholl, a resident of Huntsville, AL, is especially gratified that the center will be in the old high school auditorium.
“That is where I went to high school and I graduated in that auditorium,” she said.
Scholl grew up with a love and appreciation of the band impressed on her by her mother, Carolyn Ritter.
“Mama talked a lot about Mr. Skipworth; he had a big impact on her as well as on the band. Her love of band was passed on to my sister and me. She recognized what an integral part of the community the Big Red Band was, and still is,” said Scholl.
A member of the flag corps, Scholl has a lot of memories of her years in the band.
“It was fun, but it was very hard work. Band camp was a test of endurance. However, it was worth it as we always did well in competitions. I had Mr. Grove, Mr. Evans, and Mr. Dornbush as directors and learned a lot under them,” she remembered.
She is very appreciative to her parents for honoring her with the chair.
“I am so honored and flattered for them to think of us in such a kind, thoughtful, and generous way,” Scholl said of their donation.
Scholl is excited about the future of the Skipworth Center.
“It will be an incredible asset to the community and the surrounding communities. The community has really given incredible support of the project, spearheaded by Dr. Alford. He has worked tirelessly on the venue,” she said.
She also reads The Star-Herald and is grateful for the articles that have showcased the many people whose lives have been affected by the band.
“It speaks volumes that the citizens are so supportive, and that even those who no longer live in Kosciusko have been so supportive and talked about the impact the band had on them,” Scholl said.
Like her sister, Shelley Ritter, is excited about the center.
“I think it is a fantastic project for the community. I am glad that Kosciusko will have a state-of-the-art facility to present so many programs, and that it will also be tied in to the history of the Big Red Band,” Ritter said.
“I was in the band under Mr. Grove, Mr. Evans, and Ms. Fisher. I grew up hearing about Mr. Skipworth from my mother, and know how important he was to the Big Red Band tradition,” she said.
“I remember going to plays and performances in that auditorium. The arts can be so transformative in people’s lives and can provide different opportunities for many people,” she said of the Skipworth Center.
Ritter is also thankful to her parents for the honored chair.
“I am happy and grateful they did this for me and for the project. It’s the love and appreciation of the arts that my parents have which instilled in me a love of the arts,” she said.
As a matter of fact, that love of the arts has continued into Ritter’s professional life. She is executive director of the Delta Blues Museum. Begun in 1979, it is the world’s first museum that is devoted entirely to the blues. In 1999, the museum separated from the Carnegie library system and became a stand-alone museum. Ritter joined the museum staff in 2003.
“The job keeps me busy. I do whatever needs to be done, exhibits, fundraising, grant writing,” she said.
She is especially proud of the awards the museum has garnered, such as a National Medal for Museum and Library service award in 2013.
“We were one of five institutions chosen, and we received the award in the East Wing of the White House. That was very exciting,” Ritter said.
In 2014, the museum was one of 12 institutions and only two museums selected for another award.
“We won the National Arts and Humanities Youth Award and were able to perform at the East West Wing of the White House,” she said.
Both Ritter and Scholl are looking forward to the completion of the Skipworth Performing Arts Center and its enhancement of the arts in the community.