I haven’t posted to this blog in awhile but wanted to share the family response that I wrote for Mom to read at the dedication yesterday. As the response states, we are overwhelmed with the honor and proud of the legacy Dad left behind. Mom managed her emotions well and read my words beautifully. I know Dad would have been equally proud of her and mortified by all the attention. Obviously, with this honor comes a new wave of grief but each waves is also cleansing and healing. Thanks again to all those who have loved us and walked with us through our grief journey. You have forever changed my heart.
On behalf of the Weatherly family, thank you. Allen loved PBS, AETN, and this community. He had one desire for his life and that was to make a difference. Those of us who had the privilege of doing life with him, are forever changed by his impact on our lives, and so we can find comfort in the knowledge that his desire was fulfilled.
Allen loved giving tours of this building. He was proud of the expansion and of what programs and good work developed in this space. We teased Allen for being a natural tour guide. One of his early jobs was as a cave guide in Marvel Cave at Silver Dollar City and he never seemed to let go of the instinct to guide. He felt most at ease with a strategy and gently nudged those around him along the course to make plans come alive. Additionally, his natural tendency to sprinkle historical facts and pop culture tidbits into every day conversation only solidified this persona of being the ultimate tour guide. When Allen gave a tour of the station to visiting friends or family, we would roll our eyes and tease him about spending the most time talking about two specific things. Of course, he was proud of the Emmys and other awards, eager to introduce loyal staff, and could launch into detailed explanations for every nook and cranny, but his tours always lingered for him to boast (on behalf of AETN, of course) on the special floors in the engineering studios and in this space, the Atrium. Thank you to the foundation and friend board for not selecting the floor as the space being named for Allen. The plaque would certainly have been cumbersome step over each day.
Allen had a dream for this atrium. As the plans for the expansion of AETN were developed, he knew that there was a need for a place to display and celebrate the diverse strengths of Arkansas. He dreamed of this space being accessible to the community as we shared in our rich history, colorful people, unique contributions to music, and innovative art. How lucky are we to have been witness to his dreams coming alive? This space has told the stories of Arkansas World War II Veterans, children have sat at the feet of former Arkansas First Lady Ginger Beebe as she read to them, families have posed next to the giant Christmas tree decorated with beloved characters from Sesame Street, and fellow music lovers gathered to witness Cedell Davis’ distinctive blues guitar stylings. And this is just the beginning. Allen’s dream has become his legacy.
Mr. Rogers wrote “If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.” Sometimes we don’t know how much we need light until we are in the dark. Allen had a quiet charisma that perhaps wasn’t fully realized until it was gone, until we had to say goodbye. He filled each space with light both in his personal life and professional life. He is so very missed because he was so very loved. This space is as special as he dreamed it would be. Light pours in from so many angles illuminating the best of AETN, the best of this community, and the best of Allen Weatherly.