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Gauerke inducted into the Ohio Community Theatre Hall of Fame

| March 4, 2019

Bettsy Gauerke was inducted into the Ohio Community Theatre Association Hall of Fame last autumn and received special recognition before opening night of “Beer for Breakfast” at the Triple Locks Theatre.

COSHOCTON – A long-time thespian and supporter of the Coshocton Footlight Players was presented with a special award on opening night of “Beer for Breakfast” on Friday, March 1 at the theater. Bettsy Gauerke was the first Coshocton Footlight Player to be inducted into the Ohio Community Theatre Association Hall of Fame.

“I was really astounded and thrilled,” said Gauerke. “I was very grateful to Susan for nominating me.”

Gauerke was nominated by Susan Metz Guthrie, who in addition to being involved with the footlight players is also the vice president of the Ohio Community Theatre Association [OCTA] Board.

“It was such a natural thing to do,” said Metz Guthrie. “I was sitting in the theatre one night and thinking about this award. Bettsy was sitting in my eye site and it was like, well there’s the person right there who deserves this award.”

Metz Guthrie said that she was a little surprised when Gauerke was awarded this honorary award because Coshocton County is a small region within the OCTA and there are not many winners from this region of the state.

“When I was a little girl and the theatre was out of the old barn at the fairgrounds, I would volunteer to usher and one reason I volunteered to usher was to watch Bettsy on stage,” said Metz Guthrie. “Even as a child, I comprehended how incredible she was. This award is almost like a full circle for me.”

Not only did Metz Guthrie have to submit a letter of recommendation for Gauerke to be considered for this award, but two fellow thespians, Mickie Galajda and Shelia Mayse also submitted accompanying letters of recommendation.

“She has given her time, talent, and treasures to the footlight players,” said Galajda. “She has used her influence to bring people to the theatre and to bring businesses to support the theatre. She and her family are talented actors. She is the gem of the Coshocton Footlight Players and she deserves this award from the OCTA more than anybody.”

In September of last year, the OCTA held a state conference in Columbus where Gauerke was recognized but she was unable to attend.

“We wanted to do something special for her locally,” said Mayse.

Gauerke has been involved with the Coshocton Footlight Players since 1955, only five years after the group was founded. Her first appearance was in the “King of Hearts” during the 1955 – 1956 season. She has served on the board of directors as a trustee for five years, president for two years, vice-president for one year, first vice president for two years, and second vice-president for two years. She has also been director of 21 shows, serving in that capacity more than any other director in history. She has served in almost every backstage capacity in many productions over the years and as an actress, she appeared in 34 productions. Some of her notable roles include Annie Sullivan in “Miracle Worker”, Mary Todd in “Mrs. Lincoln” and Daisy Werthan in “Driving Miss Daisy”. She and her husband retired from the stage when the two appeared in “Love Letters” together just a couple of years ago.

“It’s such a big ego trip and it is such fun,” said Gauerke. “The most wonderful thing about it is you get to make friends and meet people you may have never known. A couple of years ago, Susan asked Jim and me if we would do ‘Love Letters’ and that was our retirement party. We had a wonderful time and it was the best thing that’s ever happened to us. That was a real privilege.”

Gauerke was also one of three recipients of the Coshocton Footlight Players Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award given at the celebration of the 50th season in 1999. The award had never been given before and has not been given since.

When asked if she had any advice for current thespians performing in the Coshocton Footlight Players, Gauerke said, “I wish them to have as much fun as I did.”

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Category: Arts & Entertainment

Beth Scott

About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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