*Editor's note: This is the first part of a two-part feature that highlights the life and achievements of seven remarkable WHS alumni — Larry Felty, Beverly Everett, Scott Dorsett, Sam Taylor, Harold Dorsey and Jeremiah Richey. The first of those three are featured today, while the next four will be featured in Sunday's WDL.
WAXAHACHIE — A pair of busy hands, a couple of trained ears, a set of keen eyes and the three creative minds of Larry Felty, Beverly Everett, and Scott Dorsett have helped guide the individuals to their life-calling from before their days in the halls of Waxahachie High School. To recognize their talents and hard work put into different areas of fine arts, the WHS Ex-students Association will host its inaugural WHS Ex-students Hall of Fame Saturday, Dec. 10.
Felty, Everett, and Dorsett are three of the seven Hall of Fame inductees who excelled in their fine arts careers whether it be in high school, college or at a professional level.
“One of the first memories I have of crafting and making things was using butter, which used to come in a big chunk, and using black dominos to make imprints on it. I liked the colors and the patterns of it. I’ve been doing this since I was little, but not with butter,” Felty joked.
Felty is a WHS 1958 graduate, but more importantly a painter, sculptor, drawer, welder, former baker and an art teacher.
“I graduated from East Texas State University in 1963 and taught at Mountain View College for awhile. I taught at the University of Southern Mississippi for five years and then moved closer. I’ve been with the Dallas County Community College for about 32 years now,” Felty stated.
In the Victorian home in which Felty and his wife reside, a sculpture sits atop a table that conveys a fire with smoke rising to the sky where an impression of two hands is on display.
“The meaning behind this came from a saying I heard long ago ‘God warms his hands over the prayers of the faithful.' Therefore, fire is an element I’ve always used in my work and also hands. After college I began incorporating my hands as a self-portrait into my art and superimposing them over things,” Felty said.
During his time at WHS, Felty recalled there being no art courses offered to students.
“When I got to college, I decided to take a chance and try some art classes, and I was hooked. Working with ceramics was the class that did it for me,” Felty stated.
Waxahachie Daily Light Photojournalist and WHS 1976 alumni Scott Dorsett wandered into the hallways of WHS just 14 years after Felty. Due to a recent accident, which has left him temporarily hospitalized, Dorsett’s wife Johnna shared his everlasting love for his career.
“A couple of years after he graduated high school he used some income tax money to buy a camera just because he felt like. One of the former editors for the Waxahachie Daily Light invited him to tag along with him to any events he wanted to go to and take photos. They started going to games and things like that and from then on he loved it and just kept doing it,” Dorsett said.
Dorsett was inducted into the WHS Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015 for his pristine, clean shots of WISD athletes throughout his decades as a photojournalist.
Previously reported by the WDL, “He has won press award honors in every photography category (at least once — in most categories he is a multiple award winner). His photos have been picked up and used to accompany news broadcasts on every DFW television station. His work is highly sought after, as he receives requests daily from readers asking for copies of his photos. He has even been a Featured Waxahachie Artist, with a collection of his photos placed on display in the rotunda of Waxahachie City Hall.”
Johnna noted that her husband's photos have also been featured for large businesses such as Applebee's and Canes Chicken.
After receiving news of his Athletic Hall of Fame induction, Dorsett reported to the WDL, “Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the awards. I appreciate that folks think enough of me to recognize me. However, I’m just not a spotlight kind of guy, and quite frankly, the thought of having to go on stage and give a speech scares the **** out of me. I’d much rather someone walk up to me, give me a hug and tell me they appreciate the picture I took of their son or daughter. I wouldn’t trade those hugs for all the awards in Texas. I’m serious about that — but I also want folks to know I am really proud to be considered for recognition in my alma mater’s hall of fame.”
Johnna and the Dorsett family expressed their thankfulness and excitement for Scott’s second WHS Hall of Fame induction as well as for the community of Waxahachie and the WHS Ex-students Association.
At a very young age, the WHS 1998 alumna was introduced to her life-long love for music. Everett’s career lead her to her new hometown of Bemidji, Minnesota where she conducts the Bemidji Orchestra and travels to and from her second conducting job for the Bismarck-Mandan Orchestra in Bismarck, North Dakota.
“When I was six years old I started taking piano lessons with Wilma Dorsey. I know Harold Dorsey is one of the Hall of Fame inductees, so that makes this extra special for me. Their deceased son, Stewart, was a composer, and he wrote a piece of music for one of my orchestras,” Everett said.
After mastering the piano, she took on her next challenge of learning to play the organ.
“When I was 12, I started taking organ lessons with James Steel. Around that same age, I became very involved in the music ministry at the First Baptist Church, where I received much training and have had many experiences there,” Everett said.
At WHS, Everett was a member of the WHS Band and marching band.
“I played in percussion section for the band. In the marching band I played the xylophone and several other keyboard instruments on the sidelines,” Everett said.
After graduation she made her move from Waxahachie to Waco, where she would attend the Baylor University School of Music and receive a Bachelor’s degree in organ studies and a Master’s degree in conducting.
“From there I went to the University of Iowa where I earned my second Master’s degree in organ studies and got a doctorate in conducting. My sophomore year held a bunch of experiences that lead me to become interested in becoming a conductor. I began to take different classes and do everything possible to make that my career and finished all of my degrees in 2001,” Everett explained.
She noted that in the United States where are only around 3,000 orchestras and most conductors have two orchestras, making earning a conducting spot rather challenging.
“There is only one female music director in the country who is a conductor of a major orchestra. There are a few that are a little bit beneath that, and then there are also a few of us who have mid-sized orchestras,” Everett said. “As a young female college student to be encouraged to take this route was something unusual. In most cases and I think still today that females are encouraged to conduct a children’s symphony. It is one of those career field areas that hasn’t caught up to recognizing women in leadership positions.”
A competitor against 150 other applicants from around the world for her career in Bemidji, Everett found herself in her dream position not once, but twice.
“It is very typical for all orchestras, even the majors one, to narrow their applicant pool down to three to five conductors. You take turns with the other conductors for about a week, and you conduct rehearsals and a concert. My audition for the job took place in Oct. 2004 and the last person to audition began in May, so it is a very long process. I was the first candidate to audition for both orchestra’s, and I feel very fortunate with my both situations,” Everett stated.
Described as a “tremendous honor,” she shared that the induction means the world to her.
“I’ve been blessed to receive multiple awards over the years, and I have to say that this one is at the top of the list. It means so much to me because I’m being remembered in my hometown where I don’t live close to or perform at,” Everett said. “To be remembered and acknowledge by the people who knew me when I was first starting out is very special. I know some of the other inductees, and I’m very humbled to be in the same group as they are.”
The Fine Arts Hall of Fame will take place 7:00 p.m. at the WHS Fine Arts Auditorium. Tickets are $10 are available for purchase at http://waxahachieexstudents.org/Support.html.
Kelsey Poynor, @KPoynor_WDL