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Arts at Winthrop

Medal of Honor

2017 Medal Recipients

Polly Adkins ’68, '72 has performed in many roles at the Rock Hill Community Theatre, Main Street Theatre, and the Fort Mill Community Playhouse. She also began performing in Charlotte, N.C., winning seven Metrolina Theatre Awards for acting and directing and three Creative Loafing Awards. She has performed at Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte, Queen City Theatre, CPCC Summer Theater, Theatre Charlotte, Barebones Theatre, Victory Pictures, Belmont Abbey Players and the New Stage Ensemble Summer Rep at Winthrop. She was twice picked as Charlotte Magazine’s Best of the Best Actress. Adkins served on the Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte’s Board of Directors for over 10 years and is presently on the Fort Mill Community Playhouse Board. She helped create Rock Hill’s Main Street Theatre, which operated for several years until the theater was torn down for local development. Adkins continues to direct at the Fort Mill Playhouse and other regional theatres and has directed North Carolina shows for Theatre Charlotte, Donna Scott Productions, and ATC’s NuVoices Festival. She also has been featured in local commercials. For two years, Adkins helped develop Create Carolina, an arts project bringing together Winthrop University students and professional arts experts from across the country. Create Carolina was founded by Charles Randolph-Wright, famed director of MOTOWN and screenplay writer for Showtime, HBO and 20th Century Fox. Adkins was born in Charlotte, N.C. and grew up in Rock Hill, S.C. She attended Winthrop College, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 1968. She earned an M.A. from Winthrop in French. She taught French and theatre at York Comprehensive High School for 43 years, directing and producing plays at the school. 

Kitty Wilson-Evans ’92 is a nationally acclaimed historical-interpreter and storyteller. Her most famous slave reenactment is the character of Kessie, who Wilson-Evans portrayed at Historic Brattonsville in York County during the 1990s and up until her retirement in 2010. She blazed new trails at this historic site by being the first African-American interpreter. Wilson-Evans received many awards and recognitions for her interpretive work, including the Rock Hill/York County Convention and Visitors Bureau Heart of Industry Tourism Award (2010), the Jubilee Festival Heritage Award (2009), and the Robert E. Lee Service Award from the Ben Caudill Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans (2008). Wilson-Evans co-authored a book with Lucinda Dunn entitled “Kessie’s Tale,” based on stories of Kessie, a young slave girl at Brattonsville in the early 1800s. Wilson-Evans was born at Fort Benning, Georgia. She earned a B.A. from the University of South Carolina and a M.A. in children’s literature from Winthrop University. Wilson-Evans has performed in rural schools with the SC Arts Commission and worked as a teacher with the Chapter I in Lancaster County public schools and in private schools as well. 

Family Trust Federal Credit Union was established by employees at the Rock Hill Printing and Finishing Co. in 1957, and its 60th anniversary celebration this year will emphasize the philosophy of “people helping people.” First located in a stock room at the textile plant, it provided a way for employees to save and acquire loans when denied by traditional banks or taken advantage of by loan sharks. Originally called the RHP&F Federal Credit Union, it was open only to employees of the plant. Later, as the mill declined, the credit union sought members elsewhere and changed its name in 1988 to better reflect its wider audience. A community charter that allowed it to serve anyone who lives, works, worships or goes to school in York County was approved in 2000. Today, the credit union has more than $455 million in assets, 50,000 members, and seven branches throughout York County. It employs 153 and offers the same products and services as most major financial institution including investments, digital banking and mortgages. In 2015, the credit union opened a three-story headquarters where the first branch once stood, and features nine pieces of artwork commissioned from six Winthrop University art students. The company is devoted to giving back to its community, especially to teachers and education. Contributions include $10,000 in teacher grants and a school planner distributed annually to 7,500 educators across the county.

Tom Stanley is an artist, educator, and former chair of the Department of Fine Arts at Winthrop University. He received a M.A. in applied art history and a M.F.A. in painting from the University of South Carolina in 1980. He served on the faculties of Arkansas College (now Lyon College) in Batesville, Arkansas; Barry University in Miami, Florida; and as the director of the Waterworks Visual Arts Center in Salisbury, North Carolina. He was the first director of Winthrop University Galleries from 1990-2007. As a curator, Stanley's projects have included "Worth Keeping: Found Artists of the Carolinas" for the Columbia Museum of Art; "New South Old South Somewhere In Between" for Winthrop and the Levine Museum of the New South; "Still Worth Keeping: Communities, Preservation and Self-Taught Artists" in collaboration with the South Carolina State Museum; and the production of "Remembering Ed (Lewandowski): THe Last Precisionist" in collaboration with SCETV. In recent years, his work has been exhibited at Hampton III Gallery, Greenville; George Gallery, Charleston; if ART, Columbia; Fine Arts Center, Greenville; Artspace, Raleigh; and 701 Center for Contemporary Art, Columbia. A series titled "Drawing Across the Sea" was exhibited this past year at the University of Porto's Casa-Museu Abel Salazar in Porto, Portugal and "Works in Black and White" at Rutledge Gallery at Winthrop University. Other recent exhibitions include "Tom Stanley: Drawing in Paint, 1992-2017" at if ART and "Tom Stanley: Scratching the Surface" at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art during Spoleto 2017 in Charleston. Stanley has collaborated with colleague and artist Shaun Cassidy on a number of public art commissions including "Balancing Act" in Simpsonville, South Carolina, for Provident Community Bank; "Journey" in Raleigh, for the North Carolina Local Government Federal Credit Union; and five installations for the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. In 2010 Cassidy and Stanley completed the 33-feet high stainless steel "Winthrop Monolith" and the concrete "River's Journey" for the Hardin Family Garden at Winthrop. Stanley is currently completing the public art for Charlotte Area Transit's Blue Line Tom Hunter Station on North Tryon Street in Charlotte.

Previous Recipients

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