NAME CHANGE ... The three surviving children of Reid and Evelyn Erekson hold the sign renames Bellmont Theatre as Erekson Memorial Theatre in commemoration of their parents, along with two scrapbooks containing photographs and writings about their parents. From left are Gary Erekson, Greta Schnepf, and Taya Cowan. Many other members of the Erekson family also attended Saturday night's memorial service. (Photo by Eric Mann)
Bellmont Theatre at Bellmont High School was formally renamed "Erekson Memorial Theatre" on Saturday night in a ceremony following a student production of the musical "The Phantom of the Opera."
The posthumous honor was accorded to Reid and Evelyn Erekson, who were in charge of BHS plays from 1970-81 and who both died in 1990.
Their son and two daughters, plus numerous others in the extended Erekson family, attended the event. The couple's surviving children are Gary Erekson of Fort Wayne, Taya Cowan of Fort Wayne (wife of Dr. John Cowan), and Greta Schnepf of Huntington (wife of Roger Schnepf).
The guest speaker was Tom Kaough, whose involvement with BHS plays came after that of the Ereksons. In his remarks, he took note of the special occasion by slightly revising the name of the night's musical to "The Phantom of the Erekson Theatre."
Kaough, who is in his 48th year as a teacher, said he met Reid Erekson in 1954 at The Civic Theater in Fort Wayne, when Kaough was in high school.
Kaough noted that Erekson had always wanted two additions to the Bellmont stage, but never got them: a hydraulic lift in the orchestra pit and "flying scenery."
He also recalled that Erekson was blessed with "a magnificent voice."
"What an honor to be with the Ereksons," Kaough said in conclusion.
Wylie Sirk, superintendent of North Adams Schools, called it "an honor and a privilege" to name the theater after the Ereksons and marveled at "how their legacy has continued over the years."
Sirk also gave the family members two large scrapbooks filled with pictures of the Erekson couple and writings about them. A local committee put together the scrapbooks and organized the ceremony.