04/10/06 — Two more stars added to college Walk of Fame

View Archive

Two more stars added to college Walk of Fame

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 10, 2006 1:49 PM

Two men who made early impressions on the Goldsboro landscape and went on to do the same in other parts of the world returned to Wayne County over the weekend to be memorialized on the Walk of Fame at Wayne Community College.

International opera star Bill Stone, now a vocal professor at Temple University in Pennsylvania, and the teacher who first encouraged his potential at Goldsboro High School, George Trautwein, were feted at several events hosted by the college's Foundation.

On Friday evening, Dan Shepherd of Shepherd Electric Supply Co. interviewed the honorees in a "fireside chat" format at Walnut Creek Country Club. Also during the reception and dinner, Sally Spring, a renowned folk singer who also attended Goldsboro High, provided musical entertainment.

The festivities culminated on Sunday afternoon, when two stars were unveiled along a walkway at Wayne Community. The breezy weather was a stark contrast to the rainy climate of the previous day.

"It's a beautiful day," said Jack Kannan, director of the college Foundation. "I was in charge of the weather."

Kannan regaled the audience with memories of sharing the football field, a seat on school bus trips and a long-time friendship with former classmate Stone. The two were also members of Trautwein's mixed chorus while at Goldsboro High in the early 1960s.

Several years ago, when donors to the college expressed interest in bringing an arts and humanities program to the area, Kannan lured Stone and later Trautwein to the campus for fundraising events. The move proved beneficial, launching the arts and humanities department, as well as endowments in both men's names.

Stone lauded Kannan's efforts "starting something that would really galvanize the community in a way that I have never seen anything before. I think that's what was special -- not only about Goldsboro, not only about Wayne Community College, but what's happening in this place today."

Before unveiling his star, Stone's wife, Bonnie, paid tribute to the man she first met when the two worked together at Lost Colony and later while both were students at Duke University.

"All the qualities that made him who he was back then are still there," she said. "I didn't marry a singer; I married Bill."

She talked about raising their family on a farm and in the midst of a successful worldwide career as an opera singer, how her husband was willing to give it all up if the children wanted him to.

"He has always done things his way," she said, adding that "he carried with him what was instilled in him during his formative years."

Visibly moved by his wife's remarks, Stone paused when he took the podium, then expressed appreciation for the hometown celebration.

"You can't imagine traveling all over the world, having a place like Goldsboro to call your home, and I think all of you have contributed to what I have done. To George for putting me on the stage when I had never had a singing lesson in my life, and I ended up winning a first-place award," he said.

Many times after concerts, he said people have shared that his music had touched them. In such moments, he said he has felt like an ambassador -- from Goldsboro, from North Carolina, from America -- for the music and the arts.

"I thank you for honoring me and George here today. But this is not my star. This is Bonnie's star. This is your star. This is Jack Kannan and Beth's star. This is everyone here in Goldsboro's star for everything that's going on here," he said. "I thank you for honoring me for being from Goldsboro. I couldn't be more proud to be truly a native son."

Tributes to Trautwein followed, from a former co-worker and two former students.

Bea Balkcum taught alongside Trautwein at Goldsboro High from the time he arrived in 1956 until his departure in 1969. She recalled his having to learn how to eat southern food, being aghast that collards and sweet potatoes had been served at an educators' banquet, and later admitting that the peanut butter and jelly sandwich he ate in her home was his first.

As a educator, she said she had never met a teacher who was more effective with students. "I feel like Mr. Trautwein always knew what he was talking about," she said.

While at Goldsboro High, she said, "he inspired everyone that came into contact with him. He had energy that you would not believe. His students had a great deal of respect for Mr. Trautwein."

One of those students, Steve Baddour, had done his homework before Sunday's event. He recalled an occasion four years ago, when a local tribute was made to Trautwein at the college. Someone who had not attended Goldsboro High asked Baddour what had made Trautwein so special or unique.

"I was at a loss for words," he said, "upset that I wasn't expressing it better."

Pulling out prepared notes, Baddour shared about the man who was like a father to his students.

"We wanted to be like him. He had a sense of style, a certain panache, but he also had a sense of substance," he said. "We behaved better when we were around him. He was hard-working and devoted to the work he was doing."

Baddour said the teacher showed his students possibilities.

"Bill Stone can attest to that, and so can a lot of us. (Trautwein) set a standard, then he modeled it," he said.

Peter Spear, a student when Trautwein taught in New York, drew attention to the "concert choir tie" he wore and demonstrated the right way to hold the "concert choir folder" as he read from his speech.

"Mr. Trautwein was my mentor and teacher and brought out the best in me," he said. "I'm proud to say I'm a student of Mr. Trautwein and will try to emulate his teaching."

Given equal time to address the crowd, Trautwein said it had been a wonderful event and expressed gratitude at being honored along with Stone.

"I was very appreciative of doing this for Bill. Every teacher has a star in there somewhere, and Bill was my star, along with Steve Baddour and a few others," he said.

Seeing old friends and students during the festivities was also terrific, he said.

"But especially all those who have donated to the college. I'm very proud of Wayne Community, and I hope that it flourishes in the future," he said.

Eugene Price, editor emeritus of the News-Argus, served as emcee for the Sunday ceremonies.