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All In The Family Star To Open - Chipola Center For The Arts

MARIANNA - From the loveable Gloria, daughter of Archie Bunker on "All in the Family," to Miss Hannigan on Broadway, Sally Struthers is a national treasure.

Struthers will perform her one-woman show at the Chipola College Center for the Arts grand opening gala, a Grand Night, on Sept. 20. She is expected to reminisce about her days as the TV wife of Meat-Head (Rob Reiner) on the popular 1970's sitcom, and also about her real life romance with Elvis Presley. In between, she'll sing a couple of numbers, likely "Little Girls" from her role in Annie and maybe even a John Prine song "Hello in There," made popular by Bette Midler.

Charles Sirmon, Director of Theatre at Chipola, says, "Everyone is going to love Sally. She's a hoot and a great talent." The two-time Emmy winner is also expected to mix with the crowd at the after-party immediately following the show.  The historic event includes an after party with live music and heavy hors d'oeuvres. Dress is semi-formal.

The gala will also feature current Broadway star Tony Yazbeck who most recently played the role of Billy Flynn in the Broadway production of "Chicago."  Yazbeck is expected to sing and tap dance his way across the brand new Chipola stage and into the hearts of the first-ever audience in the new Center. His other Broadway credits include: "White Christmas" (Phil Davis), "Gypsy" (Tulsa), "A Chorus Line" (Al), "Never Gonna Dance," "Oklahoma" and "Gypsy" with Tyne Daly.

Tony has performed at Carnegie Hall and many of the fine nightclub and concert venues in New York City. On Television, he's appeared in the first season of the new NBC hit series "Smash" about the creation of a Broadway musical. His Film and TV credits include "Every Little Step" (feature documentary) and "All My Children" and "As the World Turns."

The gala is the first official performance in the new $16 million Chipola Center for the Arts. General admission tickets—$50—are available at the Chipola Center for the Arts, The Marianna Fitness Center and the Gazebo Café. Call 850-718-2220 for credit card orders, or contact

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Chipola Professor Receives Scholarships

Chipola College English professor and Writing Center Director at The Baptist College of Florida, Geraldine (Deanie) DeFelix, has recently received two different scholarships from the Delta Kappa Gamma International Society, of which she has been a member since 1991. The honor Society for women educators promotes excellence in education and personal and professional growth of women educators, leading in the field of graduate scholarships given to members and emphasizing leadership development for its more than 90,000 members in 17 countries. A member of the Society's Phi Chapter in Florida, DeFelix is attending Faulkner University, where she is majoring in Great Books Literature.

Dr. Kathleen Harned of Tennessee, International Scholarship Committee Chairman, announced the recipients approved by the committee at Society Headquarters in Austin, Texas, with the following statement: "We granted 30 Scholarships of $6,000 each for the 2012-2013 academic year."
Recipients must be enrolled in a recognized graduate program and have been a Society member for at least three years to qualify for scholarship consideration. Since its scholarship program began in 1940, The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International has given 1013 women educators $4 million in scholarships.

At the DKG District I meeting in Pensacola, Florida President Carrie Frye awarded DeFelix a "Designing Woman" award in recognition of her International scholarship announcement. The Lois and Marguerite Morse Scholarship was presented to DeFelix at the DKG International Convention in New York at the Celebration Luncheon held to honor many members for their outstanding achievements and contributions to the Society.

In addition to the international scholarship, DeFelix received a Mu (Florida) State Scholarship, as announced by Committee Chairman Kathy Avery from Sarasota. Local chapters in most states also offer scholarships/grants-in-aid to their members and/or to deserving young women who want to pursue a degree in education. In 2011 all three levels of the Society provided approximately $1,673,333.26 in scholarships for members. DeFelix encourages all members who want to further their education to consider this source of funding; high school students in this area should also explore the option of applying for the grant-in-aid offered annually by the local Phi Chapter, Martha Compton of Chipley, President.

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Larry Nelson Our Father of the Fine Arts

There is no doubt that Chipola College is an educational cornerstone of our community and Northwest Florida. Since its founding in 1947, thousands upon thousands of students have attended classes, graduated, and moved on to institutions of higher learning across the country and throughout the world.
Throughout the years, Chipola has been an athletic powerhouse and many people are aware of that. However, not as many have been as familiar with the Fine Arts, their tremendous contribution to our community, and far fewer are aware of the hard work and tireless dedication that went into the development and evolution of our community's current collective appreciation for the arts.

 With numerous years of teaching under his belt, Mr. Lawrence Nelson moved to Marianna, Florida in 1960 and assumed his role as an instructor of the arts at Chipola. For a while he was a one man show. He instructed Humanities, voice, band, and directed the theater - the first few years were very busy. At that time, Marianna was a much smaller community and Chipola Junior College did not possess the physical presence and institutional stature that it does today - it was truly in its infancy. Mr. Nelson brought his passion for enriching the minds of his students and his love of the arts together to embark on a wonderful and challenging 27-year tenure at the college. As a veteran of the Korean War (1950-52) and a graduate of Asbury College, Mr. Nelson gave up a major in Medicine to pursue a degree in his true love: the performing arts. Born in Mobile, AL in 1931 in a small house on Dunham Street, Mr. Nelson grew up with three brothers and three sisters. As he remembers there were only two bedrooms and one bathroom so most days the house was pretty active and there were many fights over the bathroom.

In 1963, he married Hazel Burns and in the same year they gave birth to their first son, Richard. Richard attended Chipola Junior College, graduated with the highest honors, received recognition for outstanding achievement in mathematics and physics and moved on to Florida State University where he graduated from the School of Engineering with honors as well. Richard is now a recognized Professional Engineer and still resides within our community.

In 1968 Mr. Larry Nelson assumed the role of Chairman of Fine Arts and began his mission to build the department into a cornerstone of the college. It is important to note that at that time the Fine Arts were not a topic on the minds of very many people in the community. The department's very existence was threatened on several occasions, but Mr Nelson's steadfast dedication, commitment, and vision carried it through these rainy periods time and time again. In the words of his son John Nelson, "my father knew the challenges he faced and the uphill battles to be fought but these things didn't matter. His passion never waned and I think his raw determination got him through the tough times. He never lost sight of what was important as part of the grand scheme of the college".

In 1970, Larry and Hazel gave birth to their second son, John. John attended Chipola as well, and moved on to Troy State University where he earned a Bachelor's of Science in Computer and Information Sciences/Management Information Systems and graduated with honors. John is a software engineer and consultant and resides in our community as well.

Through the years, Mr. Nelson repeatedly brought national and world-renowned celebrities to our small community to participate in theater productions and to perform. These names included Ann B. Davis, Hal Holbrooke, Ken Howard, Carol Channing, Alan Glasman, Tonio di Paolo, and numerous others. As his son John remembers, "my father had a knack for bringing people to Marianna that would not have come otherwise. I remember Ann Davis (the Brady Bunch) taking family pictures with my mom, brother, father, and me in the yard. My childhood was interesting. We had numerous dinners and parties - celebrities, poets, singers, authors, and so on". He also brought the Atlanta and New Orleans Symphonies to Marianna to perform on more than one occasion.

His focus was not just on teaching but on introducing his students and members of the community to all of the great things that the fine and performing arts have to offer. For many years Mr. Nelson conducted Handel's Messiah at the Chipola Health Center during the Christmas season. Thousands of our friends and members of the community attended these performances.

In the 1980s, Mr. Nelson founded the Chipola Regional Symphony Orchestra which provided a wonderful outlet for talented musicians throughout Northwest Florida to show off their skills and provided a great performing arts experience for the citizens of our area for a number of years until his retirement.

Prior to his retirement in 1987, Mr. Nelson worked diligently to secure funding for the Violet McClendon Scholarship fund. As his son John recalls, "I was only a child but I remember Mrs. McClendon and Dr. McClendon (her husband) adored my father. They had a special bond with him and believed in him. Any cause of his was a cause of theirs. It was his passion for the college, the Fine Arts program, and her trust of him as a person of integrity that compelled her to donate such a large amount to start the scholarship fund." His final achievement as Chairman of Fine Arts at Chipola is an accurate summary of his entire career as an educator and as a person passionate in his pursuit. Mr. Nelson summarized education like this: "an educational institution's true success is not measured by physical attributes and buildings but by the degree to which students acquire knowledge and become better able to think for themselves in an objective way. The Fine Arts represent the collective experiences and accomplishments of the human race from the dawn of civilization and throughout history, and because of that we all stand to gain a better understanding of and appreciation for our own existence through them."

Since his retirement from Chipola in 1987, Mr. Nelson has continued to be very active. He has been successful in real estate sales, acted as General Manager of our largest local truckstop for several years, remains active and involved, and to this day serves as choir director at First Presbyterian Church in Marianna. You can find him there any Wednesday night, Sunday morning, or Christmas Eve. He continues to give to the community and it is likely that if you attended Chipola between 1960 and 1987 you know his name or had him as a professor.

Today, in their 80's, Larry and Hazel Nelson lead very productive lives and are still actively involved in the community they have loved since the early 1960s. Their work and respect from their friends and colleagues are tributes to them. Larry Nelson is truly a noteworthy man in many ways. He was a great and passionate professor, musician, and visionary. He was a man ahead of his time in many ways.

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