A man who has contributed much to the arts in Columbia County was honored as Outstanding Arts Supporter/Volunteer by Columbia County Arts Inc. at the group's annual meeting Monday.
Dr. Earl Williams, (left) presents the Columbia County Arts Inc. award for the Outstanding Arts Supporter/Volunteer to his fellow co-founder of the Columbia County Choral Society, Jacques "Jack" Kearns. Mr. Kearns' wife, Jean, accepted it at Monday's annual meeting of Columbia County Arts Inc. at Brandon Wilde.
Photo by Valerie Rowell
The group gave the first award of its kind to Jacques "Jack" Kearns, who was obviously moved by the gesture.
"Thank you," Kearns said through teary eyes as he received a standing ovation from those present at the meeting at the Brandon Wilde Clubhouse on Monday night. The award recognizes an outstanding influencer, motivator, organizer or originator of an arts organization, program or project in the county.
Philip Hedgecloth, the Columbia County Arts Inc. president, said Kearns was nominated for the award by his group and by The Columbia County Choral Society, which Kearns co-founded with a longtime friend, Dr. Earl Williams, in 1997.
Kearns has been minister of music at churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and Georgia. He also was involved in the American Guild of Handbell Ringers, and he composed and arranged handbell music, Williams said in his speech.
After his 1996 retirement and service as interim music director at several area churches, Kearns became the first artistic director and executive director of the choral society. In the summer of 2000, Kearns retired from the position and was dubbed director emeritus after being diagnosed with ALS, known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
Kearns volunteered with leaders from other arts groups in 2000 to form Columbia County Arts Inc., an organization that recognizes and supports artists and arts organizations in the county.
As the choral society sang one of Kearns' favorite tunes, God's Going to Set This World on Fire, Kearns sang along to every word with a big grin.
Columbia County Arts Inc. also presented Ron Jones, co-founder of Augusta Dance Theatre, the award for Outstanding Individual Artist, which recognizes outstanding achievement in any arts discipline by a living county artist who has dedicated himself to excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the county.
Jones opened the Ron Jones Academy in 1986 and co-founded the Augusta Dance Theatre in 1990 with his wife, Kathleen. He served as a founding member and treasurer of the Greater Augusta Dance Coalition and was an organizer, founding board member and past president of Columbia County Arts Inc.
The dance theatre annually performs The Roar of Love, which is performed for the public and school children, and presents many other performances during the year.
"Columbia County would be much poorer without these two individuals," Hedgecloth said of the two award recipients.
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