Saturday, June 17, 2017

This Week in Texas Methodist History   June 18

Women’s Choral Group Gains National Attention for Lon Morris   June 1949

Lon Morris College, an institution of the Texas Conference of the Methodist Church, was nationally famous for its fine arts program.  Several of its former students achieved fame as professionals.  It was no accident.  The Lon Morris administration was devoted to the fine arts program.  Lon Morris recruited talented students and provided the resources they needed to succeed.  Readers will recognize the names of Tommy Tune, Sandy Duncan, K. T. Oslin, and Margo Martindale.  All of them attended Lon Morris. 

One can get a good idea of such support by looking at the schedule of a choral group of 8 women during June 1949.  The women appeared at Annual Conference in Houston and at the formal opening of Lakeview Methodist Assembly in nearby Anderson County.  They sang several times each week at luncheon clubs and churches and highlighted the Watermelon Festival in Nacogdoches.
The big trip, though, was to New York City to sing at the International Lion’s Club Convention.  While they were there, they also appeared on several national radio broadcasts.  

Lon Morris was a junior college so all the students were barely out of high school when they participated in these travel experiences.  The eight women who made up the group were Joy Hamilton (Rusk), Ruth Wilson (Huntsville), Jean Officer (Jacksonville),  Jackie Strickland (Lufkin), Shirley Richards (Freeport), Veldean Scott (Fairfield),  Mary Crouch (Port Arthur),  and Nelda Million (Liberty).  

There was another Lon Morris student who achieved musical stardom, but those talents weren’t really developed at Lon Morris.  Johnny Horton, from Gallatin, came to Lon Morris and played basketball.    He practiced his singing talents in the beer joints over the Louisiana line. 


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