Fifty years after Marlene Jordan-Marsh was crowned Putnam County's Dairy Festival pageant queen, she returned her award to the city that gave it to her.
The Evans resident was awarded a $25 savings bond as the 1957 dairy festival pageant queen. The bond, which was awarded to Jordan-Marsh by the Eatonton Service League and the Eatonton Exchange Club, matured after 40 years.
Jordan-Marsh returned to Eatonton on May 14 to cash the bond, worth $202.72, and donate the funds to the Eatonton-Putnam Arts Foundation. Her donation will go toward the renovation of Jordan-Marsh's grammar school into the Eatonton-Putnam Arts Center.
"They gave it to me years ago, and this is something I can give back," Jordan-Marsh said.
Marsha Sichveland, the finance chairwoman of the arts foundation, said the historic downtown Eatonton school building, which has served as a grammar and high school, is undergoing $2 million in renovations. When completed late this year, Sichveland said, the building will include classrooms for the arts foundation's regular art classes, a 500-seat performing arts theater, a museum for Eatonton and Putnam County history, offices for the chamber of commerce and a classroom that will feature historic photos of all graduating classes of the school.
"It will be wonderful," Sichveland said. Many alumni of the school have made donations to the renovation ranging from only a few dollars to thousands of dollars.
"Every little bit helps; it absolutely does," she said.
Jordan-Marsh was crowned queen of the Dairy Festival by Miss Georgia, Jody Shattuck, on the 150th anniversary that dairy animals were imported from Europe. She said she never planned to cash the bond, which she considered a souvenir from her reign as pageant queen.
"I've lost and found that (bond) so many times it's not even funny," Jordan-Marsh said.
She said she remembers joining the pageant with her friends because it was the civic thing to do. When she recently found the certificate again, though, it was perfect timing to do something with it because she is helping to organize her school's 50-year class reunion June 2.
"It is a good cause and something I really wanted to do," Jordan-Marsh said of the donation that will go toward the school she lived next door to. "I have a lot of fond memories of that school ... It is something that is close to my heart."
Some of the city's historic buildings have been torn down or inappropriately renovated, Jordan-Marsh said. That's why, she said, the preservation of her former grammar school building was worth her donation.
"I could have gone to Savannah on that money and seen (restaurant owner and cook) Paula Deen," she said. "Maybe I'll see her still one day."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.