REMEMBERING TWO LIVES "WELL CRAFTED" On Saturday, June 6, the Theatre lost two very special men, within hours of each other - Charles "Jeff" Jeffers and Aaron "A-ron" Lewis. Below are excerpts from their obituaries.
Charles E. “Jeff” Jeffers was born in California and came east to join the Carolina Playmakers at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. While at UNC he met his future bride, Suzanne Kramer, daughter of Ted and Estelle Kramer of Hickory, also studying in the drama department at UNC-CH. They were married in Hickory in 1956 and after two years in the Army he and Suzanne returned to Hickory where Jeff became a manager at Kayser-Roth Hosiery Co. Suzanne was part of the founding company of the Hickory Community Theatre and Jeff quickly found a home there as well. The first recorded play he directed at HCT was The Curious Savage and in 1960 he became President of its board of directors. From that time until his retirement in 2000, Jeff was the driving force that made the Theatre into the cultural icon it continues to be to this day. He directed and acted in more than 200 productions. At the 1993 North Carolina Theater Conference (NCTC) Festival of the American Association of Community Theaters (AACT) he won Best Actor for his performance in “Walk in the Woods.” In 2000, he received a received a Distinguished Merit Award “for promotion and development of the highest standards for community theater” by the AACT and in 2004 was named Outstanding Director in Community Theater by the Southeastern Theater Conference. He received a Marion H. Smith Lifetime Achievement Award from the NCTC in 2006. He has served as Chairman of NCTC’s Community Theater Division and named to the North Carolina Arts Council’s Community Theater Panel. But perhaps his proudest award was having the Hickory City Auditorium rename the “Jeffers Theater” in his honor. Jeff was also a long time Hickory Rotarian, serving as president in 1974-75, and recipient of a Paul Harris Fellow. He served on the Advisory Board of the Hickory Library, was a past President of the Hickory Arts Council and past Chairman of the Hickory Board of Education. He volunteered at Hickory’s Habitat for Humanity ReStore for 12 years.
Aaron “A-Ron” Lewis was a North Carolina native who came to Hickory in the mid-1970s to work in the partial hospitalization program at Catawba County Mental Health. In 1980, he enrolled at Lenoir-Rhyne College where a small part in a play ignited a lifelong love of theatre. He graduated May 6, 1984, with a Bachelors Degree in Theatre Arts. After college, he founded OBIE Productions (Our Business Is Entertainment) where he produced and presented several dessert productions (have dessert, see a play). He is Technical Director Emeritus at Hickory Community Theatre where he was on staff in that position for many years. He acted in and directed shows at Foothills, Catawba Valley Community College, Lenoir-Rhyne University, Green Room and other theatre groups for the remainder of his life. In 1996 he was employed at Broughton Hospital as a drama therapist and later in administration, with volunteer services and later with staff development. He retired in 2011. In addition to theatre, he was a Civil War buff and had visited many southern battlefields. He was also an avid poker player, and not sissy games like “follow the queen” or “Dr. Pepper baseball” with every other card wild, but “seven-card stud”, nothing wild. He played regularly with friends and hosted games at Brookdale up until a couple of weeks before he died. He also enjoyed visits to Harrah’s in Cherokee and made several pilgrimages to Las Vegas.