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Monday, July 18, 2005

Pianist Patricia WhiteWroten Remembered in New Series

class=""MsoNormal"">SALISBURY, MD---Remember when a peach orchard sat where Salisbury University’s Blackwell Library now stands? Dr. William Wroten does.

class=""MsoNormal"">The professor of history taught from 1955 to 1984 and saw the campus and its programs grow exponentially.

class=""MsoNormal"">This semester Wroten, 86, helps expand those offerings even further with the endowment of a piano performance concert series in memory of his late wife, Patricia, a well-known piano teacher in the Salisbury area for more than two decades.

class=""MsoNormal"">The inaugural concert features renowned pianist Andreas Klein, who performs Wednesday, November 9, in the Great Hall of Holloway Hall, a building Wroten knows well. In 1955, with everything from dorm rooms to a dining hall to a basketball court, it served the campus in nearly every capacity.

class=""MsoNormal"">“You knew all the faculty then,” he said. “You knew all the students. The meeting place for break was in the basement of Holloway Hall.” At the time, the building’s lowest level was home to not only the campus lounge, but the campus bookstore.

class=""MsoNormal"">Wroten came to SU at the request of President Wilbur Devilbiss after having taught at Western Georgia College. A one-time SU student (in 1938) and graduate of the Maryland college system, he earned high recommendations from teachers in the Salisbury area. During their first exchange, Devilbiss told Wroten he hoped his reputation as an outstanding educator held true.

class=""MsoNormal"">“He said, ‘Who do I blame if you don’t work out?’” Wroten recalled. The two had an amiable working relationship from that day forth.

class=""MsoNormal"">During his first four years on campus, Wroten got to know one class particularly well. He served as advisor to the Class of 1959 from their freshman through senior years. In gratitude, more than four decades later, the class founded a scholarship in his name.

class=""MsoNormal"">“We wanted to do something very special for him for all the love he showed to us,” said Carole Bozman (’59). “He meant so much to us. Because there were fewer students, everything was so much more personable then.”

class=""MsoNormal"">As class advisor, Wroten arranged everything from academic field trips to social outings in Ocean City. Wroten even helped arrange a baby shower at SU for Bozman in 1967, which she has never forgotten.

class=""MsoNormal"">Faculty also appreciated Wroten’s contributions to the University. He chaired the History Department for many years, hiring many current professors including Drs. Robert Barry, Harry Basehart, Clara Small and Ray Thompson. He also founded the department’s chapter of the Phi Alpha Theta national history honor society.

class=""MsoNormal"">He supported the formation of what eventually became the Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at SU, contributing his collections of local maps and papers, as well as ideas for the center.

class=""MsoNormal"">“He was a Maryland historian, and he was very interested in what we were doing,” said Thompson, a co-founder of the center. “We went to him and bounced many ideas off of him.”

class=""MsoNormal"">He also helped preserve part of the area’s heritage in writing. In 2004, he granted all future royalties of his best-known book, Assateague, to the SU Foundation for distribution to the Nabb Research Center.

class=""MsoNormal"">While Wroten was helping change SU for the better, his wife was making her mark on the local musical scene. With a lifelong interest in music that bloomed in later years, she took piano classes at Baltimore’s Peabody Conservatory of Music as an adult. She shared what she learned with other non-traditional students in the Salisbury area as a piano teacher for more than 20 years.

class=""MsoNormal"">She spent part of that time teaching at Salisbury Music, owned by Frances and Charles Smith.

class=""MsoNormal"">“She was a sweet lady,” said Frances Smith.

class=""MsoNormal"">“She was just a delightful person, a wonderful teacher,” added Charles Smith, retired music professor from SU and director of the Salisbury Community Band.

class=""MsoNormal"">Thompson remembers her not only as a local musical icon, but as a friend: “There aren’t many people like her. She was very patient, kind and considerate. She went out of her way to make sure everyone was comfortable.”

class=""MsoNormal"">And of course, she was a champion of music at SU.

class=""MsoNormal"">“She was a lovely lady and a great advocate of the Department of Music,” said Dr. Linda Cockey, department chair. In the 1990s, Patricia Wroten donated much of her music library to the department.

class=""MsoNormal"">She also performed on campus, joining other area piano experts to present unusual and popular eight-handed recitals. She expanded her teaching to instructing music workshops at Peabody, as well as Princeton University and the University of Maryland College Park.

class=""MsoNormal"">Now, her legacy will continue as the namesake of the Patricia White Wroten Piano Concert Series.

class=""MsoNormal"">“It’s wonderful for Dr. Wroten to want to remember his wife in such a fantastic way, by adding a new program to SU’s cultural offerings,” said Kim Nechay, assistant director of the SU Foundation and director of development in the University’s Advancement Division. “We applaud his generosity.” The inaugural performance in the series, “Mozart and His Shadow,” celebrates the 250th anniversary of the famed composer’s birth. Admission is free and the public is invited. For more information call the Office of Cultural Affairs at 410-543-6271 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu. "


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